RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- Take a book, return a book. That's the motto of 14-year-old Juliette Castagna's Girl Scout Silver Award project.
For her project, Juliette installed a Little Free Library at the Ridgefield Recreation Center's playground. The Silver Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout ages 11 to 14 can earn.
A Little Free Library is a small structure that holds books for people of all ages. Its goal is to inspire reading.
The library is made of wood that Juliette painted, and can hold up to 30 books.
"My project is based on the honor system," said Juliette. "Anyone can come and borrow a book, and whenever they're finished with it, they can return it. They can also leave any book that they don't want or have already read."
Juliette, who lives with her 8-year-old sister Jadyn and her parents Robert and Tracy, will be starting ninth grade at Ridgefield High School in the fall.
Juliette, who has been involved with Girl Scouts since she was 5, first thought of the idea for a Little Free Library last summer. "I was brainstorming and I saw it in a commercial on TV. As a kid growing up, I have always loved to read and that was what attracted me to this project," she said.
Her next step was to speak with Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi about getting permission to install the library in town. "I set up a meeting with him. He loved the idea."
She then created a PowerPoint presentation and showed it to the Friends of the Ridgefield Parks and Recreation Center. It detailed her plans to install the library at the playground. She had monthly meetings throughout the fall, winter and spring until her project was complete.
Her next step was fundraising. "I had to raise money to pay for the cost of the library, which was about $350. So, I created a flier, organized a bake sale and raised $200. The balance of the cost was made up in donations by family and friends."
To fill the library, she received several boxes of books that were leftover from Ridgebury Elementary School's book fair. She checks on the library frequently and replaces books as needed.
"I enjoyed the entire project. It was really fun for me. I was really excited when it would be finished and the whole town could use it. It feels good to help people in the community."
She said she hopes people will enjoy her project for years to come. "I might pass it on to my sister's Girl Scout troop to maintain when I go away to college."