Announcing Impact Library Program Recipients, December 2021

By Valarie Kingsland

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.

Lenna Barahona | Adams Elementary School | Norman, OK
I am the school librarian at Adams Elementary School in Norman, Oklahoma, and I would love to offer a Free Little Library to our community. Our school currently serves about 600 Prek-5th grade students. Our school is Title 1 and resides in a low-income community. Many of the community members are Spanish-speaking, and I believe it would be impactful to offer them books in Spanish, as well as offer board and picture books to families with young children who are not yet enrolled in school. Many of our school-aged students do not own any books, so I believe that offering this Free Little Library to them would encourage a love of reading and promote literacy, while also creating a sense of community in sharing books that young readers have outgrown. Thank you for your consideration, and thank you for offering this grant opportunity.

Bouchra Faress | Garderie Éducative Vertendre | Longueuil, Quebec, CA
Our organization is a daycare for early childhood education. We have a community of parents that will be very interested in the project. Our daycare has a very good location that is accessible to others residents of the area. We have an outside playground where the library could be installed and managed. It is an opportunity to promote trading and the love of books and to make books available for this community.

Reana Fritzler | Clayton Early Learning | Denver, CO
Clayton Early Learning is a Head Start location, providing preschool services to low-income populations. I could spend days talking about the amazing outcomes Head Start offers children, however, what makes Clayton stand out is our dedication to creating the “Beloved Community” popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., not just for our families, but for the communities in which our families live. We partner with local organizations to provide families with diapers, wipes, and formula. Our most recent accomplishment is the opening of the Clayton Cares Market. Families can “shop” at the Market for household goods, pantry staples, and even fresh fruits and veggies at NO cost to them! The ultimate goal is to be able to offer this resource to all community members in need, whether or not they have children enrolled in a Clayton program. A Little Library gives us the opportunity to reach more of our community members and invite them to enjoy our beautiful campus while exploring the joy of reading. It is convenient for busy parents to find new books every day of the week, even when they are in a rush, and gets children excited to see what treasures they may find today.

Jennifer Gayer | Harmony School of Enrichment | Houston, TX
I would like a Little Free Library for our school community (K-12) and the community around us. We are a title 1 school that does not currently have a school library and not all of our students have access to books. Our students reading levels are below grade level and I would love to have a way to encourage reading at home and be able to supply books to all of the students. The students reading levels will not increase if they do not have access to books. I am a teacher and the advisor of Harmony Helping Hands, a community service club. We would hold book drives to ensure that our little library is always fully stocked. I have envisioned a little free library at our school for years and would love for you to help me fulfill this dream. This would help the kids at our school and in our community tremendously. A book is a gift you can open again and again – Garrison Keillor. Please help provide this gift to my students at Harmony School of Enrichment and the community around us. Thank you for considering us.

Traci Hammond | New Brunswick Public Schools | New Brunswick, NY
Our students are an inspiring group of future leaders with diverse interests, abilities, and goals! Our students come from a very high poverty area. We are a school of 800 students in grades Pre-k to 8. One hundred percent of our students receive free breakfast and lunch and many do not have access to books at home. Research shows that reading every day improves brain connectivity, increases vocabulary and comprehension. Our students will be able to choose from a variety of books that will allow them to read independently in their own homes. Everyone deserves opportunities and choices. Please help me give the opportunity to choose and read a book to my students! Seeing the smiles of students who can choose their own book to take home is priceless.

Alexandria Howell | Danville, KY
Local kids and kids from surrounding areas visit the park. It’s a low-income community with very little to do except visit the park and go outside! This would be the perfect way for kids who are only able to get a book in school to be able to have one at home. I believe that they would love the system and it would help to get younger kids interested in reading and parents interested in reading to their kids.

Julie Jones | Cuba, NY
Clarksville is a small rural town with less than 1000 residents. The youth in the area need to be able to get books in their hands to continue to build connections and a love for reading. We do not have a library within walking distance so this opportunity will allow people in town to get and give books to help grow each other. Some of our residents are older and can’t drive any longer but can walk a short distance in our town to get books to read to help keep their brains sharp. I pray we are afforded this opportunity for a small sweet rural community.

Paula Lenington | Highland Hills Elementary School | San Antonio, TX
We are an elementary school in the SAISD school district. We have PreK-5th grade students. Our school is a Title I school with families who are still trying to recover from the pandemic. We are a neighborhood school with great potential for families to access the books that would be made available with this Little Free Library. The public library branch in this area is still closed so having this little free library will give our families the opportunity to have books available for their learning and enjoyment.

Amy Lewis | Homeschoolers of Poplarville | Poplarville, MS
I am the custodian for our local library. Due to the size of our county where we live we are unable to reach everyone. I personally live in the rural part of the county (15 plus miles from the public library) and my wish is to serve more. I also help with our local Homeschool group and we would love to use this as our service project.

Debbie McKinney | Girl Scouts of Tarpon Springs | Tarpon Springs, FL
CAP Center is a community Social Service location that also has before and after school programs for very low-income families. They provide many services for those people who need assistance with Rent, Utilities, Child Care, Food, and other social services are provided. This will make books available to the neighborhood that might not otherwise have access. The before and after school program has many children involved and this would be accessible to them at all times. This project is part of a Silver Award for some of the girls in my Troop.

Mary Elizabeth Minor | The Family Tree-GOALS | Aurora, CO
GOALS (Generational Opportunities to Achieve Long-term Success) is a 2-generational program providing temporary housing to families experiencing homelessness, joblessness, and poverty. GOALS provides case management, no-cost housing, access to free food, and assistance with child-care, benefits through the county, and classes to help with resume building, financial stability, and educational opportunities through GED and head start. This opportunity will give our clients and their families the opportunity to participate in a book exchange and expand their reading opportunities without worrying about financial implications.

Niki Okuk | Los Angeles, CA
We had a cabinet on the curb and many children on my street got books but because it was not bolted to a post someone took it. I know my neighbors would enjoy it and I do not see any other ones in the area on your map. South Central LA is very low income, about half black, and half indigenous Latinx, it is extremely densely populated with more than 20k residents per square mile. There are no bookstores less than 10 miles away.

Krista Oolman | Ireton Christian School | Ireton, IA
We have a community of about 800 people. There are 2 elementary schools in our town but there is no library. The location of this library would be within a block of both schools and would build community between everyone. It would be an opportunity for everyone in our town to have access to books. We live in a rural community and not having to drive over 10 miles to a library would be amazing. My first-grade students have been studying all about the importance of books in our reading curriculum. We have learned all about how books change lives around the world, as well as how books change our lives. We also talked about how not everyone has the opportunity to have books, and then when we read about Little Free Libraries in a story, my students got so excited to be able to offer our own library in our community.

Stasha Powell | Westlake, OH
Last time I tried to get a little library at the prodding of the Executive Director of the Redwood City library where I use to live. There were many in town. I’ve since moved and I’ve only seen one Little Library and it’s outside of a bar. I would love to bring this idea to my new community and share my love of books with all those who walk down my street, which is a main street through town. I was heavily involved in the library before I moved. My new library is privately owned and has no tutoring programs or many of the things I had come to love about my old library. I would really love a chance to showcase little libraries in the area that I am in. Thank you for your consideration.

MaryAnne Rishebarger | Monarch Sister Schools Program | Baltimore, MD
There is a large ESOL population in this Middle School. Most of the students take buses to the school and do not have time to walk a few blocks to the public library. The Little Library will be placed next to a Native Monarch Butterfly Garden that ESOL Students planted at school this year. This inviting outdoor learning space will attract students and the community who will take books home to read and share with family members. We will write encouraging notes and place them inside the books. We are speaking to the Principal now about implementing DEAR: Drop Everything and Read for 15 minutes each week. This school is located next to Johns Hopkins Hospital. We are hoping that staff at the hospital who walk past the new school garden will also add books to the Little Library. We know that offing the books for students to take home to share with family members will increase literacy and help students succeed in all of their subjects.

Brian W. Sykes | Woods at Shelborne Homeowner’s Association | Carmel, IN
Due to staffing shortages and financial constraints, the local school district was forced to cut bus transportation to two Elementary Schools and one Middle School neighboring our community. Our HOA Board of Directors worked with the school district to establish a safe and permanent path for children in both our and surrounding neighborhoods to provide reliable and safe access to school each day. Presently several neighborhoods of children now utilize this singular path to travel to school each day resulting in heavy daily foot traffic in the area proposed. The subsequent result is that each morning and afternoon families with pre-school-aged children now frequent this path while they accompany their older siblings on their walk to school. Establishing a Free Little Library on this easily accessible and frequently traversed path on the way to school will encourage physical activity, reading engagement, and literary access for both school and pre-school-aged children in several neighborhoods. Placement here will encourage book exchanges between parents while also capitalizing on the opportunity to engage young children while they await their siblings. The convenient access and ability to capitalize on the natural congregation here will foster a love of reading and sharing within the community.

Amy Wilcox | Merlin, Ontario, CA
North Buxton is a community that is part of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent. This community is known as the end of the underground railroad in Canada. This community is host to the Buxton National Museum and Historic Site. Those living in this rural area will have access to trade books 24/7 rather than having to drive to the nearest library branch which is 12 km. away with limited hours of operation. Many living in the area do not have access to personal transportation and public transit in the area is very limited. This community is host to the young and old and is a diverse community.

Ginny Wilson | West Newfield, ME
There are many kids and adults alike in my area with few options for reading. Our town library is open 3 days a week and is a single 20×20 room. There are no stores to shop for books within 15 miles leaving us with a book desert of sorts.

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