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Reader's Corner: Forsyth JROTC building Little Libraries

Many people are likely familiar with the term “food desert,” referring to very rural or inner-city areas where fresh, healthy food options are hard to find. “Reading deserts,” or “information deserts,” can also occur in such areas, with limited access to libraries. A group of Forsyth High School students in the school’s USMC JROTC program are doing something about that problem in Taney County.

Pictured from left to right: Cadet Company Commander, Cadet Captain Morgan Sweeney-Legore; Cadet Company Executive Officer, Cadet Captain Jenny Price; and Cadet Corporal Ty Beasley.

The students came up with the idea after their instructor, Sgt. Marie Voegel, mentioned a Little Free Lending Library she had seen while on vacation. The students liked the idea of providing the libraries in locations around the county; and since JROTC programs focus on leadership, Voegel tasked the group leaders, Cadet Captain Morgan Sweeney-Legore and Cadet Captain Jenny Price, with finding plans for building libraries and creating a materials list.


Cadet Captain Sweeney-Legore shared the students’ project at a recent meeting of the Forsyth Area Chamber of Commerce, where she also shared research the students had done that showed the need for access to reading materials in areas with high percentages of residents who drop out of high school, don’t attend college, or start college without finishing. In such circumstances, access to reading material can be a lifeline for encouraging future generations to develop a love of learning, as well as helping families feel more connected in their communities.


After the students presented their research to Sgt. Voegel, she arranged for the materials, including repurposed materials from a building she and her father had torn down several years ago. The students are now eager to work with area businesses and individuals who are willing to host a Little Library on their property and assist with keeping it organized and maintained. At the Chamber meeting, the project met with enthusiasm as a win-win situation, with visibility for the hosting or sponsoring business or service organization when families visit the Little Library locations.  


Sgt. Voegel stated that anyone who would like a library in their neighborhood or for their business should reach out to the JROTC program at, and students will get to work building, stocking and delivering the library, with approximately two weeks needed for the project.


Thanks to these students for their initiative in seeing a problem and an opportunity to solve it, helping to encourage reading among families of Taney County!


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