Announcing Impact Library Recipients, August 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.

Elizabeth Jacobson | Bethel, AK 

In the outskirts of Alaska, there are no bookstores and school libraries are full of books from the 80s. Children are growing up without books in the home and thus are entering kindergarten with few pre-reader skills. Research shows that language development in the first two years of life (and the first five overall) is crucial for success. A Little Free Library would benefit part of Bethel, Alaska tremendously. With a Little Free Library, children could gain access to so many books that they can’t currently access. While we have a public library, many kids cannot access it due to a lack of transportation. By putting a LFL in a neighborhood, we are increasing their access to books. This LFL would benefit kids of all races and socio-economic statuses. However, it would be providing an opportunity for kids without books to have access to a wide range of books and positive interactions with the adults managing it.

Bethany Thomas | Munford Middle School | Munford, AL 

Munford, AL is a small, rural community located in Talladega County. At Munford Middle School, we have approximately 400 students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades. Seventy-five percent of our students receive free or reduced lunch. Many of the students come from families who work and own land in the Munford area. One of our main goals for the 2021-22 school year, and beyond, is to increase the volume of reading in our school and community. This library will provide more access and opportunity to select books that spark our students’ own interests and imagination. The flow of books for our book-sharing box will be maintained by the sponsor and student members of the MMS Junior Beta Club. We plan to include a small guest book so people can leave comments and suggestions for books they’d like to read.

Kelly Moore | Glamour Party Girls | Agoura Hills, CA 

I would like to install a Little Free Library at my house, which is located on the main street in Old Agoura, just one block away from my town’s high school. Hundreds of high school students walk past my house each school day, and these students are the ones I’d like to serve with this library. My hope is that having a Little Free Library so conveniently accessible to these students will encourage reading in an age group that tends to spend more time in front of screens than reading books. My town does have a small library, but it has been closed or with limited hours during COVID. I plan to supply my Little Free Library mostly with books for high school aged children, but also for adults and younger children, since we get a lot of foot traffic from people walking dogs or just taking a walk with their families. I hope to foster a sense of community with this Little Free Library, as well as encouraging kids to read. I currently have a number of books I’ve already read waiting for new homes, including some bestsellers and great young adult options. I’m known by friends and family as an avid reader, so I’m often gifted with books. My mom reads a lot and always passes her books along to me after reading them. I always have plenty of extra books around, and would love an organized way to pass them along to others! I’m also an active member of a moms’ Facebook group in my area, and if I needed more books of a specific genre, I could request book donations from that group.

Tawny Hiestand | Newnan, GA 

The library will be placed at a location called Hope Revisited. It is a foster visitation center in a home-like setting. The children are in foster care and their parents are working to regain custody. Many of these children are low income. By placing a library at that location, we can help children and adults alike. We would like this library to be a Read in Color location as well. We have several libraries and were approached by the board of Hope Revisited to place a library. We also plan to include coloring and activity books that can potentially bridge the gap a foster child suffers when moving homes and also provide inspirational and helpful resources for the parents.

Cheretta Smith | Brown Boy Boutique | Berwyn, IL 

The schools in the community serve a swath of children who are minorities in a low-income environment. Our community has very little interaction with its youth and the Berwyn area was historically a sundown town. I would like to empower the youth by fielding books that highlight main characters who are minorities. I will maintain a flow of books by networking with residents who are dedicating themselves to making the Berwyn area more suitable for brown children. I will continue to highlight minority authors and give them a platform to profile their works.

Taylor Rising | Baton Rouge, LA 

I live in a neighborhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana called Gardere Lane. It is a mostly black neighborhood, and the median household income is 36,724. 23.5% of the population for whom poverty status is determined in Gardere, LA (2.54k out of 10.8k people) live below the poverty line, a number that is higher than the national average of 13.1%. 25% of the population is under 18, and 7.8% is under the age of 5. There are lots of children and young adults of color who could benefit from a resource like this. Youth without access to transportation to the library would be able to have access to a constantly updated library within walking distance. The nearest library is almost 3 miles away. I already have a vast collection of books from my personal library, and I would also like to include books with POC and LGBT representation, and possibly non-perishable food as well. This would be a way to get to know my neighbors better, and give back to my underserved community.

Kerri Moccio | Aid in Milan | Milan, MI 

Milan is a small rural town with a downtown area that is tiny, but busy. The library we are applying for would be housed outside of our town’s primary food pantry, Aid in Milan, which is located right on Main Street. Literacy has been a priority of our organization since many clients struggle to afford books for their children and have had limited educational opportunities themselves. For several years, clients have been able to bring home free books in addition to their groceries and that has been extremely well received. However, our space is so small and our hours are so limited, that a free library on site, but accessible 24/7, would be very beneficial for our families, especially those who work several jobs and who have sporadic access to transportation. It is our goal to provide families with access to free materials as often as possible to encourage reading at home and build at-home libraries. We know this is especially vital to the academic success of the children in poverty whom we serve. In addition, a free library right in the heart of our small town would be impactful in building community and demonstrating the importance of literacy.

Christine Owens | Minneapolis, MN 

North Minneapolis is a neighborhood that has a lot of vibrant connections, organizations, and art outreach opportunities. At the same time, walking down Broadway you can see a lot of homelessness, drug use, gun violence, and poverty. I moved here in February. North Minneapolis. It’s most noted for its Black population, I would say, but has many diverse people. I am a new-ish teacher and recently finished school meaning I can find resources and have some of my own I am willing to share. I am connected with many professors, teachers, artists, and universities. I am a single, black teacher living with a disability and not abundant in financial resources but abundant in connections.

Jose Grajales | Latino Medical Student Association | St. Louis, MO 

Hello! My name is Jose Grajales and I’m the Fundraising Chair for the Latino Medical Student Association, we are a 501c3 non-profit organization that focuses on helping underserved Latino communities all across the US. Recently I had the idea to reach out for a possible grant application with your organization for a local library focused on Spanish and medical literature, to target children but also adults to help improve their medical literacy. In addition, I had the hope that our organizations could collaborate on a larger scale as we have over 120 chapters across the nation, all established in medical schools with access to underserved populations. My idea is simple, we would assign a library to each medical school that we have in our program. They would be responsible for maintaining the flow of books. This is something that I’ve always found to be a great idea and would love to be able to make it reach Latino populations across the country and ultimately to utilize such a resource for the promotion of STEM fields amongst children and medical literacy amongst adults. 

Melissa Enoch | Women of Strength | Burlington, NC 

The town of Green Level is located in the county of Alamance, North Carolina. The area has majority minorities, including African American and Latino. The schools produce less than the state average in all subjects with the elementary, middle and high school that this community feeds being one of the lowest. The ability to read and access are the greatest concerns. This area does not have a library and the nearest one is nearly 5 to 10 miles away with no public transportation. Having access to books will help serve this need for the community.

Kathy Lipecky | SHIM Family Center | Pittsburgh, PA 

The South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM) Family Center provides many programs that help local immigrant and refugee families meet basic needs, achieve self-sufficiency and build community. Most of the population we serve are Southeast Asian (Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar) refugees with little or very interrupted education. They are now raising children who will be the first generation to attend formal schooling. The library will help support our literacy efforts among adults as well as their families. Our center provides after school, early childhood, youth mentoring and family support programs that could benefit from easy access to free books. Most of the families we support are low-income and are unable to purchase books on their own or drive to the local library. We live within walking distance from the low-income housing area and also provide transportation services for the community to come to the Family Center to receive basic needs (food pantry, clothing and diapers) as well as support programs. Having a Little Free Library at our facility will greatly improve the accessibility of books in our community. We have already partnered with local organizations that are willing to donate materials. Our staff and Executive Board members have also committed to donating books. I have also applied for grant money so we can purchase materials through First Books.

Jamie Roder | Hermosa, SD 

Hermosa is a quaint little town on the eastern side of Custer County in South Dakota. The last census in 2010 stated there were approximately less than 400 people living in Hermosa. The majority of people live outside city limits, which includes over 1000 families. Hermosa is home to one school that includes elementary and middle school. The school is rated in the bottom 50% in South Dakota. It also rates in the bottom 50% for math and reading proficiency. Approximately 19% of students are a minority. Hermosa sits on the western side of the Pine Ridge Reservation. The Little Free Library will be located outside the city’s only hair salon. The salon is located on the outside of the city’s largest grouping of people, a trailer park community that includes a large number of children who do not have access to books or the library. The library in town has very limited hours. The Little Free Library would open up the accessibility of books to not only these children but to their parents as well. The library will be managed by myself and the owner of the hair salon. Together we will work on providing books to the library. Our plan is to ask friends and neighbors for book donations as well as the local library that sells books once a year. 

Rachel Alverez | Henry Ford Elementary School | Pharr, TX 

Henry Ford Elementary School comprises nearly 700 students, all of whom receive free meals, and many of whom are English learners. Our school is Title I and our students, who love to read, do not all have the resources within their family budget to purchase their own books. While they utilize our school library, we believe it would be beneficial to offer the Little Free Library as an extra resource. Our Pre-K3 through 5th grade students would benefit greatly from this Little Free Library, which we would like to position just outside our school gates. That way, our students could have access to the books on weekends and during school vacations, and the surrounding community, which is a high-poverty area, could also benefit from the library. We would love to schedule events to highlight our Little Free Library, including one of our monthly literacy nights or a StoryWalk that could begin near our library’s location. We have a strong team of teachers and staff who are motivated to offer a Little Free Library, and we would be sure to keep a healthy supply of high-interest and diverse books for our fantastic Ford readers! As the school librarian, I have access to books and a budget to purchase books. I would be able to determine our students’ areas of interest and ensure that not only does our box stay full, but that the books are ones that our community members will truly enjoy and get great use from. From both within our school, district, and community, we have many generous people who are already committing to provide books for our students to share using our Little Free Library.

Andrea Muffly | Fort Story Community Garden | Virginia Beach, VA 

We are writing to request a library at our community garden. The Fort Story Community Garden serves a unique mix of military residents, it was created to help military families struggling during COVID or during deployments to find community, gain free resources and build activities to do on base. Fort Story is isolated on the tip of Cape Charles, and many families only have one car, so when the service member is working the family is essentially stuck on base with limited resources and no access to fresh food. Our goal is to connect families with food, community and sharing resources. Adding a free library would be a great fit, they can take a walk to the garden, grab a book, and enjoy the day outside in nature, for free, without leaving the base. We are hoping to instill a sense of community and build morale on our small base. AFK Records and Books has agreed to donate books to get the library started. The Book Exchange has agreed to donate extra and overflow books every month as needed. As well as the residents on Fort Story who frequently swap items on their porches as they move on/off base. This will increase sustainability on-base housing and provide children and families with a free activity to do on base that is appropriate for all ages and stages. We meet every Wednesday year-round to maintain the garden so this book-sharing box would have regular supervision and oversight. When we get new books or are running low on books we can advertise on our Instagram/social media, to keep the book recycling chain going. Thank you so much for this opportunity! Our garden is 100% volunteer-run/funded so this would be a huge help!

Leah Bowen | King County Housing Authority | New Kent, VA 

Chickahominy Indian Tribe- Eastern Division (CITED) is a federally recognized tribe located in rural New Kent, Virginia. Many of our citizens are low income, with no access to the internet or our local library. This would be a great opportunity to increase literacy for our citizens, as well as non-natives in the community. The flow of books would be maintained through a number of avenues; families and children would be swapping out books and there will be a KCHA employee on-site to oversee the maintenance and flow of books. KCHA also has a small budget to purchase books to stock the library when needed, with a focus on books for children and youth. During this time, health and safety are of utmost importance, sanitizing wipes will be provided to sanitize books coming in or out of the library. The library will also be located in an indoor, staffed facility to reduce the potential for vandalism. The youth center maintains regular open hours and families will receive written notice about when and where the library will be available.

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