Girl Scout Organizes Updates for Historic Library

“I love to read and I love books,” Girl Scout Gwen Riemenschneider admits. “I spend most of my time in libraries.”Gwen installs birdhouse outside Newport Library.

That love for reading is why Gwen knew she wanted to help when her troop leader mentioned the Newport Public Library was reopening. At the time, Gwen was considering what to do for her Girl Scout Gold Award project and helping a library was a perfect fit.Gwen's team installs shrubs.

Newport Public Library, housed in a historic building in Washington County, closed in 2011 due to budget cuts. In 2012, the city of Newport took over the management of the library in order to keep it open. Gwen reached out to library staff and the city to learn how she could help. She then organized 25 volunteers to make updates to the library.Volunteers install picnic table.

Inside the building, Gwen and her volunteers created an art cart and kid-friendly displays. Outside, they installed new landscaping, birdhouses and a picnic table. While they were working, curious onlookers jumped in to help. “There were actually people coming out of their houses wondering what was going on,” Gwen reported, “and then they helped to plant shrubs.”

Bailey Nurseries donated all of the shrubbery and plants and the city supplied additional materials for the project. In the future, the new landscaping will be maintained by library staff and volunteers, but last summer was very dry, so Gwen and her team returned to water all the new plants.

After the Silver and Gold Award Recognition Ceremony this spring, Gwen drove past the library to see the results of their hard work. “All of the plants survived the winter,” she said. “They look really good. It shows that people in the community really care about the history. And there are a lot of kids that go there, so it’s really nice to see.”Volunteers pose for photo in front of library.