Eye on UMSL: Summer reading

A student takes a book from the new Free Little Library created from a repurposed The Current student newspaper box in the Quad at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Wesley Baucom, The Current’s outgoing editor-in-chief, had the idea to create the library for use by members of the campus community.

“I thought it would be really cool if we had a box for books instead of just for newspapers,” said Baucom, an English major who graduated in May and will begin working on his MFA in Creative Writing at UMSL this fall. “When I’d go to the library, there really wasn’t a wide selection for novels. There were new releases, but as far as the classics, I found that sometimes it was hard to find what you were looking for.”

He originally considered building a new box to house the library but realized he could make use of one of The Current’s boxes no longer in use with the paper shifting to a fully digital format this year.

Baucom was aware of an initiative led by Sustainability Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla to create swap boxes out of some of the old newspaper containers located around campus. He asked for guidance on repurposing the box in the Quad for the library.

Among other advice, Smaistrla connected him with graphic design student Gabby Nettles, who created a logo for the box. Baucom cleaned out the box, gave it a fresh coat of paint and added stickers with the logo to the sides.

“It’s very much student-driven because he was the one behind it that made it happen and put the stickers on and got it done,” Smaistrla said. “I think it’s a great story. All those little tiny things that bring people joy when they’re reusing – that’s the environmental message that we’re trying to push. Not the doom and gloom.”

Many of the first books in the library also came from Baucom’s own collection.

“The thing I’d like for students to get out of it is to read more,” he said. “Just an opportunity to get something that is free, sustainable and good for all of UMSL, even if it’s just a small thing. Even during COVID times, you can still do something, even if it’s not super big but means a lot to you personally. I love to read. I love books, and I like novels and it means a lot to me to be able to share that experience and opportunity with others at the school.”

This photograph was taken by UMSL photographer August Jennewein and is the latest to be featured in Eye on UMSL.

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Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens
Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.