Announcing Impact Library Recipients, January 2021

By Lexie Neeley

Congratulations to this month’s Impact Library recipients, and welcome to the Little Free Library family!

Little Free Library’s Impact Library Program provides no-cost Little Free Library book exchanges to underserved communities where they can make a meaningful impact on book access and reading motivation.

Amber Marinoff | Colton, OR

September 2020, the small, rural, Christmas tree farm community of Colton, Oregon, population 3,392, on the edge of the Mt. Hood forest was put on evacuation orders due to several fires encircling the logging town. All the adults, teens, and children in the community had to leave their homes and in some cases, animals behind. When the red skies and smoke cleared, due in large part to the brave men and women that began fighting the fires themselves, the community had been saved. We call these heroes and the strength of the community, Colton Strong. Due to the community being unincorporated, Colton does not have a library. What an honor it would be to be gifted a Little Free Library for the adults, teens, and children of the Colton Community, as it would continue to bring people together in support of the love of reading, learning, sharing and to support our hard-earned moniker of Colton Strong. Thank you so much for this opportunity to be considered for the honor of being gifted a Little Free Library for my beautiful rural town that I have grown to love and respect greatly.

Deb McLaughlin | Alma, MI 

Alma is a rural community in Mid Michigan. It has a k-12 school district and 1 public library. During this pandemic the community is struggling with unemployment and virtual learning. The women’s book club I belong to just read The Giver of Stars. The story of Pack Horse Libraries in Kentucky. It has inspired us to to what we can to get books into the hands of everyone in our community. We heard about Little Free Libraries and we decided to take action. We want to do what we can to put books in the hands of families. We will provide adults and children the opportunity to access free books 24 hours a day. The library will be placed in a well traveled area. It also shares a parking lot with a weekly community cafe for needy families. We believe books are Windows to the World and can take families to far away places without leaving home. We believe that the love of reading starts at home where so many families will be this winter. It is our hope that the welcoming Little Free Library Box will inspire families to take a book and leave a book.

Cassandra Noboa | Del Valle, TX

We and our children live in a rural neighborhood that is predominantly lower to some middle class families. We have a handful of friends living right here and we help each other out. We share fruits from our trees when they are in season and it gives us the opportunity to get to know each other. Our friends down the street or homeschool their children similar to how we are. Getting on a school bus for the kids in River timber means a 45 minute journey morning and late afternoon. The parents of some of these kids opt out of traditional school all together and we parents create our own curriculum. Having the gift to exchange books and continue the sharing of literature feeds curiosity and creates lovers of reading. It is a time in our history where we are home more now than ever, who would’ve seen this in such a high tech and modern world. What an unexpected blessing if we could use our time exploring an area of interest of curiosity. Reading for many is a lost art. These kids and community deserve to expand the world they know through reading.

Kim Tateo | Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm | Albany, NY 

Tivoli Lake Preserve (TLP) encompasses 83 acres and is the second-largest urban wildlife preserve in New York State (after Central Park). TLP is bordered by two of Albany’s underserved neighborhoods which gives projects within the preserve the opportunity to unite ecological and social advocacy. Our current efforts for the preserve are the latest stage in a long struggle to restore and revitalize the Tivoli Lake area, whose fortunes have tracked the ups and downs of greater Albany for over a century. Through the years, Tivoli has been everything from a water source to a noted dumping ground, eventually known for its polluted air, water, and land. The people of the surrounding community are well aware that they have been underserved for years, and disproportionately affected by crime and blight; but they have not yet enjoyed much opportunity to participate in today’s growing discourse around environmental justice. We would like to create a library at our Tivoli Community Farm space in TLP for all to use, but especially for residents from the Arbor Hill and West Hill neighborhoods. We would like to encourage visitors to take a book and find a cozy spot to read within the Preserve.

Ren Thorpe | COATI | Colorado Springs CO 

COATI isn’t just a food hall, we exist to elevate our community and establish a hideout for all. We intentionally create meaningful events for the people who aspire to learn something new, or for the person who just happen to pass through. Dedicating a section of our space for the Little Free Library will encourage our downtown region to share imagination and knowledge to the young and to the old! Best case, a tourist passing through can read what our community is reading, and maybe we’ll have something in common. It’s the little moments that catch you by surprise. By observation, a Little Free Library creates community on it’s own; it is a resource for neighboring communities to utilize and make an impact even on the smallest scale. COATI would be honored to join the Little Free Library program as we believe we can uphold the mission as it aligns with ours. COATI intends on having monthly book swaps while incorporating local publishers and authors to support the event. This event can encourage a healthy variety of books every month! With the books that did not get exchanged we would like to dedicate a few shelves around the space for them.

Simiya Sudduth | Yeyo Arts Collective | St. Louis, MO

Yeyo Arts Collective is doing work based in The Greater Ville neighborhood of North St. Louis City, an area that experiences a highly elevated crime, poverty, drug use and vacancy rates in addition to food apartheid and negative health outcomes. Yeyo Arts Collective is partnering with a new, local urban farm Tha Muthaship, located in The Greater Ville area of St. Louis to install a permaculture based educational and ecological component on the entire outer perimeter edges of the farm, which is the size of two urban lots.We plant to install The Little Free Library in the pollinator garden space, which is at the intersection of a popular street for pedestrian and car traffic. The Little Free Library will be available for youth and adults alike in the community to use. We plan to do youth education programming at the urban farm, so young people are our target demographic to be served by this box.

Tess Martinez | Orlando, FL  

We live in a diverse neighborhood with many underprivileged families, children and adults who would all greatly benefit from having a Little Free Library in the neighborhood. So few have library cards or access to books as it is. We also have several disabled people, including myself, who have a difficult time leaving their homes (especially during this pandemic). I do not work, and have wanted to do story time and a book drive for years, and this program would allow me to make my dream of helping foster a love for books & reading in our community & neighborhood. I’ve seen what a proper love for books can do for people, as I was a Librarians assistant all through my school years. It would be my absolute honor to bring this incredible program to life in this area that desperately needs it.

Amy Almada | Emma G. Whiteknact Elementary School | East Providence, RI 

Emma G. Whiteknact Elementary School is a title I school located in East Providence, RI. More than three-quarters of our school population receives free or reduced lunch. Our school community is composed of amazing and hard-working families. Many of these families do not speak English as their primary language at home. Our community relies heavily on school supply drives and donations. While we do have a public library in our city, the hours of operation are not the most accessible to our working class community. At school, we seek to instill a love for reading. We often succeed and students leave our doors thirsty for more reading content. Unfortunately, it’s not always the easiest for them to get their hands on another great book. A Little Free Library would allow us to continue to provide reading materials to our students long after they leave our building. As the 5th-Grade English Language Arts teacher, each year, my students will serve as stewards under my guidance. We have a large supply of donated books, but we have always struggled getting them out to the community. We also receive books through a Scholastic Rewards program.

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