Little Free Library Honoring Native Americans Unveiled at Smithsonian

By Margret Aldrich

The Smithsonian recently installed a birchbark Little Free Library book-sharing box at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C., donated by the Little Free Library (LFL) nonprofit organization. The “take a book, share a book” library seeks to honor Native American culture and increase access to culturally relevant books.

“By fostering a love of reading and increasing availability of free and accurate books about Native Americans, the Little Free Library fits in with the NMAI’s vision of equity and social justice for the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere through education, inspiration and empowerment,” says NMAI representative Renée Gokey.

The NMAI library was gifted through LFL’s Native Library Initiative, which places libraries in tribal communities across the nation to meaningfully improve book access. To date LFL has provided more than 60 libraries to tribal communities, working with Native community leaders and partners including the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, & Museums. The Native Library Initiative is part of LFL’s Impact Library Program.

“Our goal at Little Free Library is to see that all communities, no matter where they are, have access to books that excite and engage readers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds,” says LFL executive director Greig Metzger. “We are honored to do our part to see that happen.”

The NMAI’s striking Little Free Library book-sharing box was created by Pat Kruse, an Ojibwe birchbark and quillwork artist. Kruse is a member at Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, and a descendent of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Onamia, Minnesota.

Author Tommy Orange donates a copy of his book THERE, THERE to the NMAI little library.
Ribbon cutting for the birchbark Little Free Library at the NMAI.

To learn more about LFL’s Native Library Initiative click here.

Photos courtesy of the NMAI. Top photo: NMAI librarian Elayne Silversmith adds a book to the Little Free Library box.

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