51st Fighter Wing Airmen and local youth from the Boy Scouts of America’s Far East Council, Asia West District Troop 86 craft a wooden box for Team Osan’s Tiny Library Project at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The free book exchange program, which is designed to enrich a passion for reading while enhancing the community, has approximately 1,000 books available to exchange or take at several locations. (Courtesy photo)
51st Fighter Wing Airmen and local youth from the Boy Scouts of America’s Far East Council, Asia West District Troop 86 craft a wooden box for Team Osan’s Tiny Library Project at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The free book exchange program, which is designed to enrich a passion for reading while enhancing the community, has approximately 1,000 books available to exchange or take at several locations. (Courtesy photo)

Osan Tiny Library Project enhances community

by Staff Sgt. Greg Nash
51st Figther Wing Public Affairs

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Team Osan recently kicked off a free book exchange program designed to enrich a passion for reading while enhancing the community through the Tiny Library Project.

With approximately 1,000 books available, all are encouraged to participate in taking, exchanging, or donating books at several locations.
Several events have recognized the program’s innovative efforts and celebrated project contributors, Airmen, and faculty members and students from on-base schools.

For Kevin Bokay, 51st Force Support Squadron library director, the opportunities the program opens up are endless in impacting lives through a passion for reading.

“[Osan’s] Tiny Library program is an effort to encourage Airmen, their families, and others on the base to impulsively pick up a book and begin a journey that may change their lives forever,” said Bokay. “Books can enhance your life by letting you experience events and live through different characters, in different cultures, time periods, and even worlds. Making various books available to people throughout their busy day may be just the life-changing catalyst they need.”
According to Dr. Wanda Bradley, Osan Elementary School principal, her students have started to benefit from these changes.

“Our students are very excited about our library,” said Bradley. “They enjoy bringing in books they have read to swap for new ones. It’s a great opportunity to find new books and to trade and share. They really appreciate how this was a special gift for their school, and take very good care of it. It is a way to share the gift and love of reading, and it has become a popular place for students to visit.”

Wanting to enhance the community with a place for people with shared interests to visit, Isaiah, son of Lt. Col. Steven Raspet, 51st Fighter Wing inspector general, decided to carry out the groundwork to bring the project to life.

With the help of multiple project contributors, the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron and his local scouting organization, the Boy Scouts of America’s Far East Council, Asia West District Troop 86, Isaiah surpassed the goal of building two libraries by creating six.

Though the process of fundraising, planning, getting approval, acquiring materials and volunteers was challenging, the result was rewarding.

“Seeing it all come together was such a relief because I was nervous that the project wouldn’t finish,” said Isaiah. “There’s a lot of sense of community at Osan and [I’m glad] that I gave back in some way.”

Team Osan is encouraged to continue giving back by communicating the program’s intent, donating books and helping construct another potential tiny library.

Please contact DSN: 784-9194 for more information on the locations of the tiny libraries.

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