Announcing Impact Library Program Recipients, March 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.

Julie Butler | Texas Threads | Hereford, TX
We’re a low income rural community in the Texas panhandle with a large migrant population. Although there is a local library, limited hours make access difficult. We no longer have a book store in our town of nearly 15,000. My children saw a Little Free Library in San Angelo, Texas, and loved it. It would be a great fit for our community. I have had a business on Main Street for close to 20 years, and have just purchased several buildings on the block, so we’d have permission to use the space. We have a great corner sidewalk spot to place it. The location gets quite a bit of traffic, would be very accessible and it would be easy for me to maintain as it’s where I work. We have a great relationship with our community and schools and I would anticipate We’d have a lot of support from people who would keep books stocked, and participate in getting and giving books. Learning to read and acquiring a LOVE of reading unlocks so many opportunities for all ages.

Margaret Corey | Fonseca Elementary, Fall River Public Schools | Fall River, MA
This is a low income area. 100% of The students who attend our title 1 school are eligible for free or reduced lunch. There is a large low income housing project directly across the street from the school location where many of our students live. There is also elderly housing along the property line. We serve a high percentage of multi-language learners as well as students whose first language is not English (Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, etc). When I provide books to students they often tell me it is the first book that they have owned or that there are no books in their home. Lack of a literacy rich environment at home impacts their academic progress. Our school does not even have a library, which I feel is a terrible disservice to our students. It was dismantled to house a STEAM location for supplies that are rarely used. I hope you will consider our community for a little free library so that we can bring the joy of reading to countless children and adults who do not have adequate access to books.

Zak Curtis | Ogden, UT
This community is vibrant, beautiful, and most of all, diverse! This little library would be serving children, adolescents, young adults, and adults of all backgrounds. The address is located on a popular walking street that gets a lot of foot traffic. The neighborhood and city are very historic and offer a rich historical background as well. I think a little library would serve a large population of people in this area! This address is also down the street from an elementary school and a university building. I think a little library here would serve both children and young adults from these places. There are a few little libraries near here, but none in close walking distance. This is also considered a low-income community, so a free library would be a very beneficial source of education for my neighbors and community.

LeKeisha Edwards | Woodstock, GA
The direct and surrounding community in this demographic is living significantly below the poverty line. There is little access to a public library and many that reside here are not able to afford books to keep in the home, which is one of the key resources statistics have shown to lead to greater outcomes of success in communities. I would love and appreciate the opportunity to have a Little Free Library become a part of this community to support those with minimal resources and time, to have the opportunity to foster a love of literacy and reading. The presence of a Little Free Library will be a beacon of hope and encouragement for the community, showing everyone that someone cares about their development, wants them to reach their full potential, and hopefully, through one book exchange at a time, change the trajectory of present and future generations.

Courtney Gatlin | Eastern Elementary School | Jamesville, NC
The community being served is a rural Eastern North Carolina town. According to the Census Reporter (2019), 42% of children under 18 in Washington, N.C. are below the poverty line. Research shows a direct correlation between poverty level and access to books. Eastern Elementary is a Title 1, Pre-K & 1st school with Free and Reduced Lunch. The people being targeted to use the Little Free Library are Pre-K & 1st children, however, some of these children have older siblings who may also be interested in using the Little Free Library. I plan to place the Little Free Library at the front of the school for direct access to children and families who come to Eastern Elementary. I will be encouraging educators to provide access for their students to the Little Free Library, this will enable bus riders whose parents do not have transportation. This Little Free Library will have a direct positive impact on the children because it will be providing access to print for children which will have an immediate and long-term effect on vocabulary, background knowledge, and comprehension.

Meghan Gough | Northeast Bronx YMCA | Bronx, NY
Our 1,500 plus YMCA members who come into the facility age range in age from infant to 99 years of age will have access to utilize free books.

KCee Horne | The Moving Brain | Philadelphia, PA
Eastwick is a small, quiet family community on the Southwest edge of Philadelphia, PA that has been underserved in many ways for decades. There are little to no facilities and programs for families in the area, I have to drive my child to other neighborhoods to access events and programs for children. The neighborhood library (Eastwick branch) has little to no programs and isn’t very accessible by walking for children and the next nearest library (Paschall branch) has been closed off and on for years and is too far of a walk. There are no Little libraries anywhere in the area and the adjacent areas. My street is a small, safe one with many children that would enjoy a Little library and gain a love of reading that will perhaps give them something to do other than be in the streets. As a mom to a 5-year-old, I already have many books to put in and share with the neighborhood and we would love to have events such as storytime.

Jeanne McMillan | Ball State University- SPAA Literacy Clinic | Muncie, IN
Muncie Community is a 29.9% poverty rate. One out of every 3.3 residents of Muncie lives in poverty. We are opening a literacy clinic on Ball State University campus and targeting children ages 4 to third-grade level. By implementing the Little Free Library in our future clinic, we hope to give more access to children in our community, especially those in poverty who may not have access elsewhere. Our community public library requires a library card to be purchased in order to check out books limiting the group of individuals who will have accessibility to it. With the Little Free Library, we also hope to bring attention to our clinic on campus and gain clientele to make the most difference in our community as possible concerning literacy. Having the Little Free Library will allow these children access to free books and increase their desire for literacy success.

Jocelyn Medallo | Hyattsville, MD
As a young child immigrant new to the United States, books served as an early introduction to the new country I would grow up in and anchored me to my new culture. I learned English through books, as well as cultural markers. Sadly, looking back now, I realize that I did not see myself in those stories, and the faces in the books that I devoured – and loved – rarely looked like me. Recently, I have been so excited to see better representation in the stories that my children read – books that talk about social justice, racism, and our call as communities, and books that feature and/or are written by BIPOC and LGBTQ voices. It’s these books that I have found to be so important to my children’s upbringing. According to the US Census Bureau data for 2021, the city of Hyattsville is about 30.4 percent white, 30.4 percent Black, 36.9 percent Latino. It is a beautifully diverse city! I would love to create a Little Free Library with books featuring BIPOC and LGBTQ voices.

Katie Murray | Guardian Angel School | New York, NY
Guardian Angel School has been serving children of the Chelsea, NYC neighborhood since 1911. Over 200 children and their families come through our doors every day. Many of our students reside in NYCHA housing and rely on our school for more than academics. We provide meals, before- and after-school programs, tutoring, special education support services, family events, and more! We pride ourselves on our strong sense of community and are eager to spread the love and strengthen our ties with the greater Chelsea community. The Little Free Library will have an enormous impact on encouraging literacy among our families and our beloved community.

Jessalynn Oliver | Pittsburgh, PA
A LFL in Churchill would establish a stronger sense of community with a place where folks can share the love of reading and most importantly and improve book access in our community. No family should ever have to worry about the cost of books, barriers, or anxieties which may prohibit them from accessing books. The Woodland Hills School District has five schools (one of which is only one mile away) and over 3k students which consist of 80% underrepresented minority students and 69% of students who are economically disadvantaged. My house would be a prime location being in a neighborhood full of youth who predominantly walk to their high school, dog walkers, and folks of all ages. My house is also at the start of a U-street with infrequent car traffic and is a heavily foot trafficked street. There is an LFL about half a mile from my house which is a wonderful addition to Greensburg Pike, however, it is on a busy street with cars often speeding by. I think it would be great to have one close by for the internal streets & residents to frequent, further increasing the access of books to Churchill residents.

Suzanne Redepenning | The Winona Family YMCA | Winona, MN
The Little Free Library will serve the community of Winona, MN, and will be posted on the grounds of The Winona Family YMCA. The Library will help us provide more access to literature for area children, over 5,800 YMCA members, non-members attending events, patients to the clinic located in our facility, and patrons to the onsite cafe. Minnesota has the second-highest literacy rate of 94.0%. About 69.9% of Minnesota residents are registered library users, the second-highest in the country. In comparison, our schools are trailing behind this literary trend. The Winona Area Public School District serves 3,090 students and has an average reading proficiency score of 50% (versus the 59% statewide average). Youth Development is integral to our mission at the YMCA, so the stewards of our Little Free Library will be our younger members in After School Care and Summer Care Programs. This program hosts around 30 elementary and middle school students from 6 different schools in Winona each weekday. The program facilitates a safe and welcoming environment for children and promotes the YMCA core values through lessons focused on youth development, healthy living, and social-emotional learning.

Laura Roberts | Sacramento, CA
Our community in Arden-Arcade is home to many seniors with mobility issues, so a Little Free Library would provide a great meeting place for those within close walking (or scooter!) distance. We are in close proximity to a local hospital, so patients or those attending them could also access the library for reading material. While many of my neighbors already know one another, a Little Free Library would also be a great hub for those of us (like myself!) who are new to the community to meet one another and share books and other info and resources. I’d love to host monthly events to get neighbors together regularly, exchanging ideas, food, seeds, and of course books for folks of all ages.

Katherine Smith | Community Action of Eastern Iowa- Head Start | Davenport, IA
This year our Head Start Center began a whole-family literacy initiative to support and encourage literacy practices with children and family members of all ages. I can only imagine the excitement children and families would feel knowing that they could access the Little Free Library year-round, at any time! This library would be maintained by the Head Start Librarian who provides literacy services in our center and family programming. We would stock our library with high-quality, high-interest materials that reflect the diverse social identities and family structures of our community. Additionally, the library would be a project the librarian would share with Head Start children, providing them ownership over the curation and upkeep. We recognize the importance of community voice, so we would love to incorporate a way for community members to leave recommendations that we could take into consideration when stocking materials. Our Head Start Center shares the property of a large non-profit organization. Additionally, we are located within walking distance of a school, a hospital, and a park. Utilizing the Little Free Library Map, I was unable to locate others in this immediate area. This location could increase access to books for many people in the community.

Sara Ward | Robert and Sandy Ellis Elementary | Las Vegas, NV
Inspirada is a developing area of hard working families with children of all ages. This community is in Henderson, right next to Las Vegas, Nevada. The Ellis Elementary library staff have instilled a profound love of reading through incentive programs including yard signs that go home when students meet their goals. During the school year, you can’t drive down a street without seeing a home where there is a proud reader with their yard sign out for all to see. This Little Free Library will benefit children of many socioeconomic backgrounds by offering free books within safe walking distance from their homes. With the uncertainty of the pandemic, we never know when we must shut our school library doors. The Little Free Library will ensure that rain or shine, school closure or not, and in the summertime, our beloved students will have access to new and exciting books. At Ellis Elementary, we teach a Code of Excellence that includes responsibility and accountability. Our Free Little Library will allow us to provide an example of taking responsibility and accountability of caring for this new addition to our neighborhood.

Meghann Woodward | Oak Grove, MO
I’m a single mom to 3 kids ages 3, 5, & 7. We recently moved to a small town after being homeless/living in a domestic violence shelter. The shelter we were at had an LFL within walking distance and my kids love it. We now have a home we own and my kids want to give back to our new community with an LFL. We will promote our library through flyers at local businesses and on social media. Our home is in a high traffic area as we are on the walking path to the K-12 school and back up to the largest park in the town. Not only will this be something my kids will utilize but our community and the school.

The following Impact Library Awards are sponsored by General Mills, Lucky Charms. Thank you to General Mills for supporting our Impact Library Program and making these granted libraries possible!

Debbie Barnett | Assistance League of Santa Monica | Los Angeles, CA
we are a thrift store, Assistance League of Santa Monica. We serve our community by providing low cost clothing and household items and have a regular stream of customers. While we can offer books at a low price not everyone can afford that price or make it a priority. Our by-laws do not allow us to simply give the merchandise away for free but we can supply the merchandise to one of our programs. So we would be able to keep the library full at all times with books from our store. We are located within the Santa Monica Public School System but some of our clients drive as far as 40 minutes to shop in our stores because we know that we can provide them with great prices and have great donations made by our surrounding community. As our customers visit often, mostly weekly, we want to be able to offer our customers the opportunity to borrow a book whenever they visit our thrift store. Some of our customers are homeless and cannot afford to purchase books but they want and need them to help them get through their days and nights.

Lauren Budenski | Grow North Texas/Owenwood Farm & Neighbor Space | Dallas, TX
The community nearby consists of a senior living facility, daycares, and an elementary school. The Little Free Library would be installed in close proximity to all of these establishments, at a community center called Owenwood Farm and Neighbor Space. This area is being transformed into a central space for everyone in the neighborhood. Having access to books is an opportunity that everyone should have. Books are educational, enriching, informative, and sometimes imaginative. Everyone should have access to free books, and this community could greatly benefit from having that opportunity and community.

Charlotte Burton | Haltom City, TX
My neighborhood has many families with young kids, most of whom speak English as a second language. This library will give them more access to English and bilingual books that target their interests. I will include books that show a representation of kids like them, so they can see themselves reflected in books from a young age. Not all of their parents can afford a lot of books, so this will be a big help in giving many young children (3-10 years old) in my area a chance to read books they otherwise may not have access to.

Jessica Dohoney | Fort Worth, TX
The Little Free Library will be able to be used by community members of all ages, we have a large number of young adults and children in the area who may not have access to the local libraries or books to read. Many families take daily walks and commute on foot in this neighborhood and could greatly benefit from being able to have access to free books to read and grow their minds and explore the world beyond them through literature!

Nneka Gigi | Beyond Adornment Club | Los Angeles, CA
The library will be extremely valuable to Black girls in and around Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw who already enjoy participating in culturally relevant activities. There are not a lot of literacy programs in the area or libraries that speak to Black girls so this will be a chance for them to come together and receive resources that they would otherwise have to travel to obtain.

Olga Guzman | Bobier Elementary School | Vista, CA
Our school serves a large population of students from low-income families. Close to 90% of our students are eligible for free-or-reduced lunch. Many of our parents lack transportation, making it difficult for them to visit a library or book store with their children. Our parents are interested in books and helping their children succeed in school. We started using books as incentives to attend in-school events and have seen an increase in parent engagement. On occasion, we will put out a cart of donated books, and the majority are taken home. We believe that a Little Free Library will positively impact our campus by building a larger sense of community and encouraging a love of literature in the home. Parents will be able to choose books that they can enjoy with their family on a regular basis. A number of our families will be granted access to books that they did not have before.

Reyna Macias | Los Angeles, CA
My community of City Terrace in East Los Angeles is a historically marginalized community with low socioeconomic conditions. I believe LFLs are a small approach to equitable literacy opportunities for children and adults. My LFL in City Terrace has been slowly gaining lots of visitors. I’d like to bring more books to children at my local library’s park playground. Children can access books while playing in the park. Some children may not access the local library for various reasons, the parents may work late and cannot visit during open hours, or they may live in the hills and do not have transportation or may feel uninvited for other reasons. I am currently working on getting permission/cleared from the LA County Parks and Rec department to put an LFL at the City Terrace Park playground. I love my community and hope to address literacy inequities with more LFLs.

Kim Marshall | Mansfield, TX
Our neighborhood has a disproportionate number of single mothers and it is apparent that books and reading are not high family priorities. In addition, there are a number of families in our area that come to me for advice/guidance/support regarding their children with Down syndrome. We have a 35 year old daughter with Down syndrome. I have been very involved in our local Down syndrome community since our daughter was born. I provide free books and copies of Down syndrome related news articles to these families. A Little Free Library would serve dual purposes; provide age-appropriate books and magazines for all the children and parents, as well as offer a more convenient way for the families of kids with Down syndrome to receive relevant and up to date reading material about a wide variety of Down syndrome related topics. My husband and I will dedicate a portion of our front yard to a Library and add a bench for immediate reading pleasure! I appreciate the opportunity to be considered for a Little Free Library that would benefit my home community and the Down syndrome community in a wider area.

Rachael Patrick | Virgil Mills Elementary | Palmetto, FL
The library will be located in our beautiful literacy-themed garden. Students and teachers go to the garden to observe the butterflies and read books. Our school has over 800 kids. We would fill it with books about character, nature, and gardening. It’s such a great break from the regular classroom and provides a great mask break for our kids. The garden has benches painted to look like famous characters from some of our favorite books.

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