Luke airmen have created a community-based resource to help educate children while bringing the families together.
Nine individuals, including sponsors who donated resources, contributed to the creation of a loaner library recently installed near the intersection of Walpai and Kiowa in Luke Air Force Base’s Ocotillo Manor neighborhood.
The loaner library is a standalone, hand-constructed shelving unit that can house up to 50 books for community members to exchange. While the initial stock of books was provided by the base library, the loaner library was placed in family housing to encourage residents to exchange books at no cost.
“The loaner library is a nice addition to the neighborhood where families take walks during these [physical] distancing times,” said Miana Atkins, 56th Fighter Wing Staff Agency key spouse and Ocotillo Manor resident. “It will be a nice stopping point and something educational and fun for the kids to look forward to.”
Those involved in the project reminded families taking and leaving books that it's important they sanitize each book to help reduced the spread of COVID-19.
Staff Sgt. Eric McKinley, 56th Component Maintenance Squadron real property specialist, built the structure and his wife, Lauren McKinley, 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron management support specialist, painted the box. Mr. McKinley planned, engraved and built the design within 20 hours.
The mini-library houses two shelves, each holding around 25 books. Double doors protect the books from the environment.
“The tiny library is a fascinating concept that we have always found interesting,” Mr. McKinley said. “By creating an inviting library, we are able to encourage young people and adults to take some time out of their day to read a new book and expand their minds.”
The library’s “attic” features a hand-painted scene.
“The neatest part about it is up top there is natural knot in the wood,” Mr. McKinley explained. “I filled it with resin and my wife painted a nebula around it. I put a little runway scene with little Thunderbird airplane models. The back of the box also has an acrylic window that shows you clearly what’s inside.”
The McKinleys volunteered their time while InstantHandz, an app-based network that brings active-duty service members and veterans together to earn extra money, covered the cost of the materials.
“Reading is fundamental,” said Adam Evans, InstantHandz chief strategy officer. “The most important thing is that children and adults enjoy it. Sometimes it’s nice to go back to a book and enjoy the adventures that await you there.”
This is the second loaner library insalled on the base. The original is in front of a playground next to the Community Management Office.
Mr. McKinley said he hopes the library will encourage children to read more, and enhance their reading and imagination abilities.
“It’s a way to leave this place a little bit better than when I got here,” he said. “We saw it as an opportunity to use our imagination and create something that people would be drawn to.”
Mr. Evans said hopes the two mini-libraries will inspire the implementation of more in the future.
“I wish there was one on every block,” he said. “But I think this is a great starting point and hopefully it’ll encourage other people to do things for our community.”
Editor’s note: Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder and Senior Airman Jacob Wongwai are with the 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office at Luke Air Force Base.