Raised in Needham, Massachusetts, Lisa Vergara has spent most of her career giving back to her community. Throughout her various roles, including Creative Art Director, kindergarten art teacher, and Friends of the Needham Public Library Board Member–to name a few, Lisa has channeled her energy and passion towards promoting literacy through art, community, and kindness.
As a culmination of her work, Lisa founded Storytime Crafts, Inc., a 503(c) charitable organization, in May 2019 with the goal of uniting communities to promote inclusive childhood literacy opportunities. Through their Little Free Library Initiative, Storytime Crafts uses Little Free Libraries to achieve their mission to advance literacy and kindness.
Why did you want to bring Little Free Libraries to your community?
We are dedicated to amplifying the voices and stories of diverse children’s book authors and directing literacy resources throughout communities. Storytime Crafts is focused on contributing to a more equitable education and opportunity for literacy, by providing schools and underserved communities with literacy resources that can help bridge the gap in learning programs.
The pandemic has deepened the needs of already vulnerable communities. When the coronavirus crisis hit forcing schools to close, routines were disrupted causing social isolation for children. In continuing our ongoing efforts to end book deserts, Storytime Crafts pivoted to installing Little Free Libraries. Little Free Libraries is a Storytime Crafts’ initiative that matches a sponsor with each Little Free Library placed in a community to promote the joy of reading. Our goal is to increase access to culturally diverse books for readers of all ages and backgrounds and foster neighborhood book exchanges throughout communities where children and families do not have access to books.
How many Little Free Libraries do you have now? What types of locations have worked best for getting books in readers’ hands?
Since September 2020, Storytime Crafts has installed 12 Little Free Libraries in communities throughout Boston including Dorchester, Roxbury, Hyde Park, South Boston, Roslindale, and one in Needham. Each of our 12 Libraries are registered on the Little Free Library World Map. Our Library at Washington Beech Playground in Roslindale was selected to receive a copy of Good Morning America’s January Book Club Pick and our Library in Needham was selected to receive GMA’s March Book Club Pick.
Storytime Crafts’ Little Free Libraries are located at the site of impactful nonprofit organizations with significant community presence, including All Dorchester Sports and Leadership, Dimock Community Health Center, and Greater Ashmont Main Street in Dorchester, Roxbury YMCA, Thomas M. Menino YMCA in Hyde Park, Haynes Early Education Center and ABCD Parker Hill/Fenway NSC in Roxbury, Catholic Charities of Boston at Labouré Center in South Boston and Washington Beech Playground in Roslindale.
What impact have the Little Free Libraries had on your community so far?
“We installed a Little Free Library in our school yard that is used by our students and the neighborhood community. We have shared more than 100 books since its installation. During the school day students are checking it out and when we let them know (again and again) that they can keep the books, they are surprised every time. This has been a great investment. Our sponsor Eileen Rakhunov, Director and Owner of A to Z Child Care and Preschool in Needham also attended the installation and another new relationship has been born. We are excited about these new partnerships and the lifelong benefits that our school community will receive as a result of Storytime Crafts’ generosity.” – Donette Wilson, Principal, The Rev. Dr. Michael E. Haynes Early Education Center, Roxbury, MA
“We are so excited to have a Little Library in our community! It brings a smile to our faces whenever we see young kids and their parents excitedly picking books out of the little library. It is proving to be a valuable resource for families in our neighborhood who may not have access to other reading materials during this isolating time. Looking forward to increased activity at the “Library” this year!” – Candice D. Gartley, Executive Director, All Dorchester Sports & Leadership, Dorchester, MA
“We love having a Little Free Library at ABCD. Throughout the day, I see our clients and other members of the community gravitating toward our Library. They will look through all of the books to find ones that interest them. Sometimes we have to refill the library several times a week because people are always stopping by to get more books. We’ve also noticed an increase in community engagement. People will stop by and add books and flyers for local events into the little library.” – Jenny Sugilio, Immigration Services Coordinator, ABCD Parker Hill/ Fenway NSC, Roxbury, MA
Use the Little Free Library Mobile App to find these little libraries and more near you!
How did you build support for your Little Free Libraries, from individuals to organizations like the Rotary Club?
Storytime Crafts takes a high impact grassroots approach to community-building. Since 2019, Storytime Crafts has cultivated meaningful relationships with individuals and organizations who share our goals. We are actively working to bring communities closer to our shared vision for social equity, diversity, and growth through meaningful, action-oriented engagement programs.
Storytime Crafts partners with participating organizations to assign a Steward to each Little Free Library. We invite our donors to participate in the installation and “grand opening” of their Library. We work with our ongoing partnerships to keep each Little Free Library stocked with diverse children’s books. As part of each sponsorship, Storytime Crafts provides hundreds of books to replenish each Library. To date, Storytime Crafts has donated 7,120 books for our Little Libraries.
Our community partners, Read Boston, YMCA, Lennox Chase, and many others, have been instrumental to not just our Little Free Library program, but our community initiatives. We are incredibly grateful for the support from our generous sponsors who make each Library installation possible. Our sponsors include Needham Bank, The Melton and Sullivan Families, Dedham Savings, The Martin Richard Foundation, A to Z Child Care and Preschool, The Raskin Family, Alex Sham, Lemon House Publishing, Ken Davison, MD, and The Wagner Family.
We are excited to share that Storytime Crafts has five additional Library installations lined up for this spring thanks to our sponsors, The Rotary Club of Needham, Dedham Savings, and Lisa Fiering and The Nissen Family.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your Little Free Library experience or our Impact Library Program?
Storytime Crafts is honored to be selected to receive an Impact Library and we are excited for its installation this spring. We would like to thank Little Free Library for their commitment to build community, inspire readers and expand book access to all. Their reliability and well-crafted Libraries made by Amish artisans have been vital to the success of our Little Free Library program. We would also like to acknowledge our amazing partner authors, Ty Alan Jackson and Jerry Craft, whose books are included in each Little Free Library we install. https://www.storytimecrafts.net/author-spotlights
Each individual donor who sponsors a Little Free Library with Storytime Crafts is essential to our success in creating book-rich environments and getting more books directly into the hands of children and families. If you are interested in sponsoring a Little Free Library in partnership with Storytime Crafts, reach out to our founder Lisa Vergara.