Impact Library Story: Julien Zeitouni

By Lexie Neeley

“Earlier this year, I visited Washington DC, and stumbled upon these cute little houses filled with books. Some streets even had several of them. I liked the idea right away, and thought it would be a great addition to my neighborhood of Ocean Hill, in Brooklyn, NY. My block has many kids often playing on the sidewalk, sometimes late. People walk through it and it gets lively at times. There is the beginning of a sense of a community, as well as the motivation to improve where we all live, by making it safer and, more pleasant and more cared for. I believed a Little Free Library would help reinforce that feeling. And, overall, I wanted to make these kids read!” – Julien Zeitouni

When Julien Zeitouni’s first application wasn’t successful, it was automatically submitted for the next round and yielded happy news: he and his community in Ocean Hill had been selected to receive a book-sharing box through Little Free Library’s Impact Library Program.

“The day we installed it, kids were already asking about it, taking books, and adults asked questions about how it was working. Every reaction has been very positive,” Julien shared.

The Little Free Library on Hull charter #74742 (find it on our world map) was popular right away. With many kids passing by on their way to and from school, the little library garnered attention, and Julien noticed new books coming and going. The community’s enthusiasm keeps him excited about checking on the Little Free Library book box every day to make sure books are well stocked, especially kids’ books.

After a month as a steward, Julien told us, “it’s been a great social experience,” bringing neighbors together and energizing nearby communities to install little libraries of their own.

Are there any particular moments you’d like to share?

“Installing the Little Free Library! We did it on a sunny weekend and right away it grabbed the kids’ attention. They gathered around us, and helped us to put it together. They took books and started to read them on the sidewalk. We also installed a bulletin board next to it to advertise events. The Little Free Library is the center of our block.”

How many books would you estimate have been shared through your Little Free Library?

“I would think between 200-300 books. It’s hard to keep track because people drop books to me as the steward.”

Are there any challenges you’ve faced?

“The main challenge is to keep the library full; 95% of the books aren’t returned. I don’t mind it at all, but it’s a constant search for books. I look on Craigslist, I post on, on Facebook … my main issue is that some people will empty the library in one visit, taking all the books. I’ve witnessed it. My guess is that they might want to resell them. I try to stamp [books] as much as I can to deter that.”

How has your Little Free Library had a positive impact on your community?

“Having a Little Free Library installed on my block has brought our neighbors closer to each other. It’s a good conversation starter! It also started our Block Association, with the overall goal of improving our living environment. It showed that good things can happen and stay on our block.

“The Little Free Library is a meeting point for people. Kids always look in it on their way to and from school. It inspired another block nearby to get their own [book-sharing box] and we now support each other to keep our libraries filled.”

Increasing book access is a big step toward solving the literacy crisis. Learn how to start a Little Free Library, or check out our Impact Library Program to find out how you can give a boost to communities in need.

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