Announcing Impact Library Program Recipients, February 2022

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 literacy engagement.

Jessica Anderson-Novosad | Yuma, AZ
As a teacher, prior military service member, and a spouse of an active duty Marine, I have come to recognize the unique hardships of military-connected communities. The military brings individuals from across the world to singular locations. Children residing in military-connected communities have a strong understanding of diversity, hardship, relationship building, and respect. If I were granted a Little Free Library, I would maintain it with books focused on diversity, resiliency, and perseverance. I am prepared to upkeep and relocate the Little Free Library, as my family relocated every three years guaranteeing it will have a unique outreach to children nationwide. Currently, we live in Yuma, Arizona, a small farming town located on the U.S. Mexico border. Our community is in a state of national crisis due to immigration struggles. Help bring a bit of joy and spread the love of reading to military-connected children and children facing socioeconomic struggle and immigration worries.

Angela Ballard | Chattanooga, TN
Highland Park was founded in 1889 as the second suburban community of Chattanooga. Our neighborhood stretches across more than 1000 residences, and within this community, there are a variety of people from all sorts of backgrounds. Highland Park is a highly walkable neighborhood, which means it is convenient for people to stop and peruse the contents of a Little Free Library. Our home’s across the street from a public school bus stop, which serves three neighboring Title I schools. The neighborhood association building is on our block as well. We have a free-to-all sharing garden planted each spring and summer on our home’s verge, and we believe books would be a good complement to this.

Kiersten Bernal | Give Every Child A Chance | Manteca, CA
We are a local non-profit that provides services such as free tutoring and free Afterschool programming. Students frequent our office often for tutoring sessions and to apply to the program.

Christine Casari | Cheboygan, MI
Aloha Township is a rural township in northern Michigan, an area of lower-income and population. The nearest public school library or public library is 15 miles away (30 miles round trip). We will put the Little Free Library on a well-traveled intersection with parking so it will be visible and accessible to everyone in the township and the many transient drivers who go by on a daily basis. There is a bench on the corner of the property so we will put the Library next to the bench for easy browsing and exchanging. There are many school-aged children and retired adults in the area so we will stock with books targeted at the audience. We have some experience in the book business so will tap that when needed to re-stock; we also expect a regular turnover with donated books. Three people have already volunteered to maintain the Library and we expect more to step up. Our community will make very good use of the Library to help raise the reading skills of our children and adults.

Amanda Cloyd | Cristo Rey High School | Baton Rouge, LA
The Little Free Library will be located on the Cristo Rey high school campus. Cristo Rey Baton Rouge opened in 2016, one week prior to a devastating flood that wiped out the entire school campus. We are now utilizing temporary buildings, without funds or facilities for a library. Cristo Rey has a significant population of students with dyslexia, who have a very challenging time reading the required texts for classes, which leads to a distaste for reading. If our students had access to a book exchange of books they are interested in – graphic novels, sci-fi, manga, Harry Potter – on their school campus … reading would totally change for them! Our students are all free and reduced lunch qualified and lack transportation opportunities to local libraries, so they truly lack access to books beyond what the school is able to provide. Our students are in grades 9 – 12, the majority with a reading level 3-4 grades below. The entire neighborhood was devastated by the 2016 flood of Baton Rouge and struggles to rebuild, so the library could benefit not only the students of Cristo Rey but the community as well.

Jalayna Kraemer | Clermont, FL
The Little Free Library will be placed at the community park next to a park bench which is already in place and in good condition. The bench is located directly in front of the handicapped parking spaces and is also the bus stop location for three different k-12 grade school buses which pick up and drop off daily. Approximately 40 different families stand at this location daily. I want this library to serve adults and children alike. I want to help create a feeling of community for those who are not as mobile or who don’t feel comfortable entering buildings or attending group gatherings because of covid-19. I hope this Little Free Library will create a love of reading for children and adults as well as create a better sense of community cohesion. Our community has shown great interest already regarding putting a Little Free Library into action.

Katarina Lowry | Gaffney, SC
Gaffney SC is a low-income community in the Appalachian mountains of SC. Once a thriving mill and production town, hard times have hit us in the past 30 years. Most children here receive free or reduced lunch, our schools are Title I, and the pandemic hit our children hard as over half of our rural community doesn’t have access to high-speed internet. While we are blessed to have a community library, it is underutilized as local parents work during its hours of operation. My hope is the LFL will offer our community children diverse books to take home that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. It would be located in a high foot traffic neighborhood here in Gaffney. The city limits of Gaffney are 48% POC, so I hope to provide books to offer more representation to our children of color. And hopefully, make access to books easier on local parents who may be struggling to purchase them for their children. I truly believe the impact of the FLL would be something special in Gaffney.

Ellen MacGeorge | Maree G. Farring EMS | Baltimore, MD
The library will be in our early childhood outdoor play & learn area. It will serve low-income children and the families in our neighborhood community. I will pick up donations from Baltimore Read and the Baltimore Book Bank.

Kwa Hill | Atlanta, GA
I have just moved into this beautiful, gem of a community and have a strong desire to make an impact through reading. They are so deserving of more growth and empowerment, as the city normally puts money into the wealthier areas. There are lots of beautiful brown children in the community and lots of elders. I think it would really benefit both in the Washington Park community of Atlanta. It would be so lovely to provide a source for them to pick a book and travel through reading and explore the world.

Carly Jessup | UK Graduate & Family Housing | Lexington, KY
Graduate and Family Housing at UK is truly unique. This housing allows students with a spouse and/or children to live on campus. Additionally, it provides a place for graduate and non-traditional students to live as well. I have approval for the Little Free Library to be installed on campus near Shawneetown and Greg Page, the most affordable of the UK Graduate and Family Housing options. This would be beneficial to a community such as ours for multiple reasons. First, we are a diverse community. There is a vibrant international community here as residents are from all over the world. It would be a wonderful way to share stories with each other and teach one another about different cultures in the community. Additionally, I would love to see multilingual books in the LFL as many adults and children here speak multiple languages. There are also English classes that take place weekly, so there is a population here that is improving their English skills as well. Lastly, the relatively low rent makes this area a good candidate. This helps many pursue education who might not be able to do so otherwise.

Renequa Johnson | Bronx, NY
The community being served is Mott Haven on the Grand Concourse in the South Bronx. One of the poorest congressional districts in the US. A Little Library will allow members of our community across all ages to connect with one another through the world of sharing & reading books. Education & culture is very rich in our neighborhood. This will add essence & bring joy & hope to a struggling community during trying times.

Mitch Perkins | Philadelphia, PA
The area of North Philly is an underserved neighborhood with a rich history, lots of community projects for children and adults, and is home to Temple University, Park Ave (the proposed street) is a busy one, with traffic from the neighborhood, university, and the nearby subway. It is located just off of Broad Street (which runs through Philadelphia from north to south). This block is active and diverse, with lots of families as well as college-age young adults. This potential Little Library could offer our neighborhood the chance to exchange ideas through encountering new perspectives. Most of what I have learned has not been through formal education but by chance encounters with books.

Erin Sisung | Chippewa Lake, OH
We live in a rural area inside of development with families of all ages. Being in a rural area would provide an outlet for a stroll through the neighborhood to go on a journey inside of a book which is the greatest forever changing journey. It would also open the opportunity for those in the neighborhood to meet one another there, maybe even exchange thoughts about the novels enjoyed. This has been a dream for me since I discovered these boxes and dove into reading wholeheartedly in 2016 when my sister and grandmother passed away. Reading became a coping mechanism and allowed me to travel any adventure I’d like. In a world of technology, I would love to see the young and old enjoying the wonderful pages of a novel. A truly forever-changing world.

Kayla Smith | CARITAS Center | Richmond, VA
The CARITAS Center is a place that provides free services to women experiencing homelessness and women suffering from addiction. We have an on-site homeless shelter and addiction recovery program where we house single women who need either of these services. We also have recovery residences on-site and a large warehouse used as a free furniture bank for the community. We serve a lot of folks in the community in many different ways. This LFL would impact not only those community members in need but also our amazing staff who work day in and day out to keep this facility and its operations running smoothly.

Ohi’a Ryan Tascar | Pahoa, HI
Good Afternoon-I am a resident of a little community in Seaview in Pahoa, HI. We have a cute little area with a community “Lawn” space that overlooks the sea and has a post center and bus station that goes into town. There’s even a community “free bin” and playground. But the Lawn is a space with many people sharing it and it would be a wonderful vision to share books with the broader community that use that space to relax and rejuvenate. So I thought of applying for a grant through you to support our extended tribe!

Heather Weers | Every Child Reads Jones County | Center Junction, IA
There is a new all-inclusive playground being built at the same site as where this Little Free Library will go. Jones County Every Child Reads in partnering with Sacred Heart School and the Monticello Parks and Rec Department to get the Free Little Library installed and to update the books in the library. The Sacred Heart School Board has agreed to sponsor the Free Little Library and to maintain it. The Little Free Library will serve many different kids throughout the community and beyond. This park is also where the community pool is so it gets more use and exposure than other places around town. Since it is an all-inclusive playground, those kids and adults with wheelchairs or other mobility devices will also be able to access the Little Free Library. This Little Free Library will impact more kids and adults than just those in Monticello and the surrounding towns.

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