Announcing Impact Library Recipients, September 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 Morgan | Pekin, IN 

We live in a mobile home community that is right across the street from the only elementary, middle, and high school in Washington County, Pekin, IN. There are so many children of all ages that walk by my house on their way to their bus stop at the end of our neighborhood in the mornings, and again on the way home from the bus in the afternoons. I definitely feel like the children (and there are a lot!), including my own, and even adults in our community would enjoy this library SO much. Also, with it being so close to all 3 schools, which are all located in the same lot, and right across the street from my community, it would be so accessible for everyone in Washington County to enjoy, not just those in my mobile home community. Pekin is a pretty small town, and this library would definitely be utilized. Also, since it would be right on my property, I would have no trouble maintaining it and donating/adding variety daily. I recently moved to this area and have been looking for ways to make it more enjoyable for everyone. Thank you for your consideration!

Bryce Barnes | Stafford Middle School | Stafford, VA 

Stafford Middle School serves many low-income families. The school community and community surrounding the school will have access to free books to promote literacy with a Little Free Library. There is a large bilingual and foreign-speaking community that would benefit from access to books in their native languages that cannot be found in the school’s library. Supplying books to this community through this Little Free Library can also provide books to parents who then model reading for their children. Teachers will work on a committee to check the Little Free Library frequently. We have books from various grants and teacher classrooms that can be cycled into the library. Additionally, we are looking for donations of books in multiple languages from the community. Our school is low-performing and this would provide the community with literacy support in a way that supports a love of reading and models literacy for more than just our population of students.

Crystal Medlock | 1st Hope Scouting | Hope, British Columbia, Canada

Hope is a small community of just under 6000 people. When the logging industry faded away decades ago the average family income decreased and families moved to where the jobs were. The main industry of our community is now tourism which means the average family income is quite low compared to other rural communities of similar size and scale. While we have lots of families that struggle there is a ton of heart here. Our home is located on the same street as two local schools – most everyone travels by our home on the way to and from school. It is our hope that by having the first Little Free Library in our community it will be the catalyst for many others that want to join in and create additional Little Free Library locations within our community. This would make a huge difference in the lives of local families including those that travel through and look for the Little Free Library locations on the app. We have been talking up this opportunity to give back to the community with our coed local scout group and the interest to pitch in has been phenomenal. It is such a perfect fit for our scout group of 60 to 70 youth (aged 5 to 21) to be a part of this worthwhile community project in such a meaningful & tangible way.

Deborah Booghier-Rogan | Springfield, OH 

I live in a “Promise Neighborhood” of low-income families. I would love to have a little free library to make books available to adults as well as children. I routinely purchase books and travel around neighborhoods putting books into the libraries of others, but I could more easily maintain one in front of my house. So many neighborhood kids, as well as adults, would benefit from an LFL in front of my house. I live in the midst of two low-income elementary schools. My library would be so great. Adults walking down my street would also benefit. Children love having their own books and I guarantee it will always be filled.

Debra Lawwill | Friends of Country Living | Wolf Creek, OR 

Fifteen miles north of Grants Pass, Oregon sits Sunny Valley, an unincorporated, under-served, and heretofore forgotten sub-community of Josephine County. Lacking basic service and employment opportunities, Friends of Country Living began actively advocating to state and local government, bringing these conditions to their attention and offering suggestions for changes that would impact lives; especially for those impoverished and substance-addicted who desire to heal and get out of poverty. We are excited about putting a Little Free Library box at the new Radio Park Event Center to provide literature to these and others in the community who will benefit from the education, inspiration, and companionship that books provide. One day while working at the new Radio Park Event Center, I noticed an elderly lady taking her routine walk to the rural mailbox. I met her on the dirt road and introduced myself. Ninety-year-old Almeda responded by pumping her cane in the air, “Well, I am sure glad you folks are finally going to open up this building. It’s been vacant for 20 years. Do you think we could have a library here someday?” A people-inspired project was sparked!

Deidre Harrison | The Lucky Trikes | Chicago, IL 

Little Village, commonly referred to as La Villita, is the principal port of entry for Mexican immigrants to the Midwest. The mix of multiple generations of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, other Latinos and African Americans living, working, and shopping together creates a unique culture that blends traditions. Little Village is 84% Latino and 12% African American. It is about 93% Latino when the population of Cook County Jail is not included. The total population is almost 74,000, with about 17,000 people per square mile. 29% of community members are under the age of 18 and 8% are under the age of five. The per capita income for Little Village residents is almost $11,000, about a third of the city average, and 35% of residents are living in poverty. 39% of community members are foreign-born, 29% are not U.S. citizens and an estimated 25% are undocumented. Access to books and literary events in unexpected places can help support a habit of reading in the intergenerational bilingual families that frequent the play lot, soccer fields, and skateboard park surrounding this LFL. The field house is nearby and park staff is very excited about having an LFL of their own. Regular donations of Spanish and English language books from the Open Books Warehouse in Pilsen will be provided for free twice-monthly while we work to get the local park advisory council and some other nonprofits involved. 

Elizabeth Quaranta | Bronx, NY 

Our urban block is going through a major transition. Several single-family homes have been removed and replaced with affordable housing – 8 stories high, welcoming in approx. 250 families NEW to the densely populated block. The quaint community feel needs to be preserved and provided to our new residents. I’m in one of the few houses left and I’ve decided not to sell and instead share some aspect of my house for the community to keep that feeling of community. The little library would make a great impact here. It’s just one of the better block ideas I have to keep the block safe and healthy. I’m a community organizer and activist on a small scale. I’m the program director for Friends of Mosholu Parkland Bronx. I can get books through grants, and donations.

Jenel Bloom | Boys and Girls Club of Carbon County | Red Lodge, MT 

Our Boys and Girls Club primarily serves kids ages k – 5 and would cater to the ages we see most frequently. We are in a small community, and within one block of us there is a skate park, a kickball field and tennis court, as well as a playground, Children’s Center, and grocery store. The Little Library would be on the corner of our lot, visible by anyone using any of the facilities above. We get a lot of foot traffic and I think it would be a breeze to conduct a well-attended community activity. We have a public library in town, but since COVID it has been closed with spotty hours for book pick up. We are a rural community without a kids bookstore, and this would ensure our local young people have a way to access new books, especially during this time of frequent business closures.

Kaitlyn Mahoney | Under the Umbrella Bookstore | Salt Lake City, UT 

Under the Umbrella is a queer bookstore serving the queer SLC community. Queer people face higher rates of unemployment and lower wages than their straight peers. As such, we are committed to providing free and low-cost options in addition to the full-price bookstore selection we have. A little free library full of queer books for local queer youth (and adults) in this community would provide access to the stories that they don’t often get to see. Seeing your identity reflected and celebrated in the stories you read is powerful, and everyone deserves that opportunity regardless of their ability to pay. There is a large homeless population near our store as well, and we provide various community resources for them. We consider books to be part of the important resources offered to all folks.

Kay Kindle | Friends of the Macon Public Library | Macon, MO 

Macon Missouri is a community with areas of harsh poverty, especially the neighborhoods surrounding Rubey Street Park. This Little Free Library will give the kids and adults in that part of town access to books that they cannot afford to purchase on their own, increasing the likelihood of parents reading to their children, kids having material to choose and read on their own, and adults keeping reading material in their home, which are all factors proven to increase literacy rates in poor communities. This is also the population of the city less likely to visit the public library due to work schedules and lack of transportation. Having a Little Free Library in their neighborhood will remove one or more barriers currently faced by a population already at risk for low literacy and dropping out of school.

Kedre Clark | Atlanta, GA 

South River Garden is a little gem of a community tucked on the Southside of Atlanta. This is a transitioning community, where there was once woods, we now have houses. Old abandoned houses are being remodeled and more children are moving into our community. This Little Library would be a great asset to our community. I have a grandson and we love reading books while sitting on the porch. I would love others to experience the joy I feel while reading with him. I’m also an Early Childhood Educator, I know the importance of literacy, this Little Library would provide books to families that may not have them. Please consider adding a Little Library to our community. I will do everything in my power to maintain this for the children in my neighborhood.

Omran Akasha | Arabic School of Washington | Pullman, WA 

We live in a bilingual community, our street Terre View is the street that many students use to walk to an elementary school and it is also at the main bus loop, so many students use the street to ride the bus. Our plan is to have bilingual books available to young readers to encourage them to keep reading books in their first language while learning English as a second language. According to research, learners of another language should also continue learning/reading in their first language and this will help them acquire the second language skills. It is our aim to encourage young readers to keep reading in their first language to help them be successful bilinguals and our little library will focus on bilingual books in English, Arabic, Spanish, and hopefully Chinese. Also, this little library will encourage monolinguals to read about other books, look at the texts on other languages, and hopefully get inspired to learn about those languages as well. We will be contacting the community for useful resources to keep the library full of bilingual books, watch the little library to make sure there’re some books always available, ask for support from the community and other organizations, encourage readers through ads, signs, social media and local news. As a founder of a bilingual school, I’ll contact our families to be aware of the little library and encourage participation!

Sam Schmitt | Saint Paul, MN 

Our neighborhood (Payne-Phalen) is a diverse place to live with a strong Black and Hmong immigrant community. The schools near our location/in the area are historically under-resourced and local public libraries are limiting their services due to COVID. Our hope is to provide books that local families will enjoy that reflect their culture(s), history, and traditions. Our local elementary school, Bruce F Vento, is a poorly-rated, “underperforming” (meaning, under-resourced/underprivileged) school with a high number of BIPOC children in attendance. We want youth in our community to have good access to books outside of school. Thus, we hope to provide books that will pique the interests of early readers and develop in them a love of reading. My partner and I search for inexpensive books at thrift stores, we solicit donations from friends/family, and collect facebook marketplace/craigslist giveaways of gently used books. We’ve started collecting books slowly over time with the intention of opening a free library on our street. We will continue to collect books and use our friendships and networks to keep our library filled and up to date.

Samanta Bonaime | Promesa Academy | San Antonio, TX 

Promesa Academy serves children in K-5th in the San Antonio area, predominantly working with low income families. Our goal as a school is to serve students and families through equity, love, and innovation. We believe that quality public education is a fundamental right for all families, but unfortunately, many families living in lower-income communities across our city lack access to quality options. We do this work because education has the power to change lives. Due to this we strongly believe that adding a little free library to our community would continue increasing our mission. Children and their families regardless of opportunity deserve to have access to reading and the adventure it brings with each story.

Shauna Hunter | Pathfinders of Muskegon | Muskegon, MI 

Muskegon is an underserved community that has lots of at-risk youth. Pathfinders organization is a non-profit that focuses on youth, families and community – our mission is to provide an empowering, engaging, and motivational environment for youth. In addition, we provide youth the elements that will give them the opportunity to become future leaders of the next generation. Most of our population is poor. We are located in a church that feeds the community and gives assistance with food scarcity and clothing needs. Through “Read Early, Read often” and through “Read Muskegon” we also purchase books for our kids throughout the year through donations and grants.

Megan Culkin | Pennsylvania Careerlink Lehigh Valley | Allentown, PA 

Pennsylvania CareerLink Lehigh Valley/EDSI and the Executive Education Academy Charter School are located next door to each other and serve a broad sector of the Lehigh Valley. PA CareerLink and EDSI primarily work with recently dislocated and unemployed adults and young adults, formerly incarcerated adults and youth, SNAP recipients, minorities, and non-native English speakers. The charter school teaches students in grades K-12 and many of the students are the children of the adult and young adult population that is serviced by PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley and EDSI. By offering literary resources to students and their parents, this would be a great collaboration between my office and the charter school and would assist with both organizations’ goals to increase literacy in the community. It is also my goal to include bilingual and multicultural books to service our diverse community particularly many of our Spanish and Arabic speaking students and their families.

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