Astra brings free libraries to local parks


Clara Carrasco

One of two libraries, designed and painted by recent graduate Clara Carrasco.

Kate Donohoe, Editor

Over the summer, Montrose High School’s Astra, a community service club dedicated to making a difference through Ability, Service,Training, Responsibility, and Achievement, completed their project of two sidewalk libraries to provide free literature to Montrose youth.The libraries will be put up in La Raza and Buckley Park.

Clara Carrasco, 2020 graduate and leader of the project, said, “As secretary for Astra, I was in charge of a literacy project. At the same time the tortilla flats area had low reading scores. Astra saw a need for books in this area and so we provided.”

The idea for this type of miniature library originally came when Kathylyne Gaber, club sponsor and teacher at Montrose High School, took a trip out of state where they had been implemented.

 “While I was in Nashville visiting my daughter, I saw one and I took a photo of it and then I shared it with our officer team to see if it was something they wanted to do. Our secretary, which was Clara Carrasco, she really took the ball and ran with it.” Gaber said.

 Once decided on, Carrasco began the process of pitching the idea and getting it approved. 

 “It started within Astra and Lulac, we made a presentation and pitched it to our clubs. Then I used my contacts in the Youth City Council to ask the City for permission to start it and to search for someone to build one. The City granted permission, and William Babble along with Ralph Files created two distinct and wonderful libraries. All I had to do from then is decorate the one that was blank and drop it off at Public Works,” Carrasco said.

 Lorraine Shide, Altrusa advisor for Astra, was involved over the summer in helping to make this project a reality. When the libraries had been finished and were ready to be installed, Shide served as a network to connect all parties involved. 

When ASTRA , a high school community service program as part of Altrusa, decided to provide free books to children, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate service project,” Shide said.

“I hope that they will be empty when this pandemic is over. It is really important in the age of information that students know how to read and comprehend the material.  I hope that literature will thrive in our community and that in the pages of books, people find their stories,” Carrasco said.