Announcing Impact Library Program Recipients, August 2022

By Valarie Kingsland

Image of the United States with Alaska and Hawaii represented on the lower left that says Impact Library Program Recipients August 2022.

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. When you donate, you help us provide libraries to communities like these.

Robin Casey | The One Room School House Project | Gainesville, FL
Our Title I charter school serves the underrepresented, financially insecure please portions of our community. There are no libraries that are readily available near us and often the families don’t have reliable transportation to get across town for a library book

Amy Duckworth | Malde R1 School District | Malden, MO
Our school services students that are 100% free breakfast and lunch. Having a Little Free Library would be a welcome addition to our community. Students and parents would have access to books at all times. To have an option where they could walk up or drive up and grab a fun book would be awesome. We believe that readers are leaders and want to encourage the love of reading while also providing multiple ways to get books in the hands of our community. Access to free books for students to take home would be so beneficial! Our school, Malden R-1, would love to have an opportunity to provide books for our small community.

Lea Dyga | Grand Traverse Conservation District | Traverse City, MI
The Grand Traverse Conservation District (GTCD) has been working for over 80 years to provide a gateway to the natural world, restore natural areas and train future generations of conservation leaders. Located on a 505-acre natural education reserve, the Boardman River Nature Center (BRNC) is a free educational natural features gallery with 7 miles of public trails. The BRNC actively serves community members, families, children’s groups and schools – including two Title I schools. GTCD is a not-for-profit organization and our environmental education department seeks to create accessible programming for all ages and incomes, especially as we directly serve Census Tract 5513, in which 24.2% of the population was below the poverty level as of the 2016 Low Income Community Census Tract. In the first six months of 2022, we have already reached 2,473 people.

Lily Eichert | Fullerton, CA
I live in a working class neighborhood with lots of kids walking and riding bikes. The neighborhoods surrounding ours are considered low income, and we have three Title 1 schools (2 elementary, 1 junior high) in our neighborhood. We receive a lot of foot traffic from the nearest elementary school as well as the junior high. We used to have a library branch within walking distance; it has been shuttered for many years and the main branch requires a car ride or a very long walk. Having easy access to books will help students (and adults) in the neighborhood improve their reading skills and find enjoyment in literature. It will also help students who won’t have access to their school library during weekends and long breaks. We own a corner house on one of the main streets in our neighborhood and could potentially provide books to many kids and adults that pass by each day.

Melanie Gerber | New Fairfield, CT
Many of the kids in my neighborhood have never been to the library outside of school. Most do not have a Public Library card. We had a LFL at the elementary school but due to the construction at the school during all of the last school year, it’s been closed. 55% of the schools in my county are Title 1. We have LGBTIQA+ youths in my town and they find solace in the library, I want to give the kids who cannot go to the library the same opportunity; to find representation in literature.

Jeannen Hill | Birmingham, AL
The library will serve a community of people of varying ages, races, and ethnicity backgrounds. Though our community is small, our proximity to the local Farmer’s Market and being in school bus and city bus routes makes our little area well traveled and diverse. We also have men and women that are working to acclimate themselves back into the community. So being able to give them access to free books would be extremely beneficial. The majority of the people that I know in my community are retired and either worked in education, in social services, or have some other direct positive impact on students. We all have an abundance of books we are currently willing to share, and my mom, aunt, and grandmother are all retired librarians and have access to books they would like to share as well. We are excited about such an amazing opportunity to serve and share.

Rhonda Jarrett | YMCA | Wilmington, DE
If I could describe the community surrounding the Walnut Street YMCA, the words I would use would be, vivacious, inquisitive, and full of potential. The number of intelligent youths within and around this community is incredible. Yet, the social climate of the area seldom allows the youth to have the opportunity to take advantage of this precious gift that they possess. The YMCA does all that it can to help support the children in the eastern area of Wilmington guiding them to not lose sight of their potential. While the association can help a large lump some, it cannot service all. Kofi Annan once said “Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.” Having a library in the community would do just that. Help the children who cannot come to the YMCA realize and stay aligned with the amazing depth of potential they comprise.

Lisa Kalagassy | Sarah Reed Children’s Center SELF | Erie, PA
We are a school-based program with a variety of children ranging from grades 5-12. The children we serve are of low economic status. Many of these children cannot afford books or the opportunity to get books, due to us not having a school library. The closest library to our school-based program is many miles and most of our families do not have any means of transportation. This is the same for the members of the community. It would be a blessing to have a little library, not only for our children to utilize, but for the community members, adults and children who do not have access to a public library.

Alexa Kelley | Jamestown, OH
We reside in a campground year round. We have campers who have no access to books due to how remote the area is. We have visitors from all over the U.S who stay at the campsite for some time, we gather by the campfire to read stories, exchange books. We have kids and adults who stay here for a few days to months at a time who share our love for books. It would benefit the kids who visit, the older residents who can no longer go to the library, and those who visit for adventures, and simply those who just enjoy reading like myself. I have homeschooled my child since she was 2 years old now she is 7, she loves to share her books with everyone, kids and adults. Internet rarely works here so other than magazines and outdoor fun there isn’t much to do. Books are our escape, we would love to be able to share that with everyone.

Melanie Kuhn | Sacred Heart University | Glastonbury, CT
The Plainfield school district ranks in the bottom 50 percent of the 196 school districts in Connecticut based on combined math and reading proficiency testing data for the 2018-2019 school year. Plainfield Public Schools have a 58 percent for their reading proficiency rating according to The school’s literacy rates dropped dramatically from 80% to approximately 50% between 2013 and 2015. They rose back up to 60% for 2016-2017, then dropped down again to approximately 40% in 2018, before climbing back to approximately 60% in 2018. Additionally, the school’s SAT scores are well below expectations compared to U.S. News expectations. At the middle and high schools, 50% of students are economically disadvantaged and, worryingly, the district’s spending per student has not risen at the same rate of the Connecticut State Median for spending per student. The proposed location of this LFL is at the highly trafficked town hall and public swimming pool. Next to the town hall is the town’s only park. It is our hope that families, children and adults will have easy access to an array of books considering the closest public library is over 25 miles away.

Jorymet Lebron | House of Serenity | Washington, DC
This community is a community in progress and the house of serenity program is a non-profit program that helps elderly homeless people (men) to have a decent life and integrate into the community and keep them away of drugs and streets.

Haddie Lyons | San Jose, CA
Our Spartan Keyes neighborhood is host to an incredibly diverse, low income and working class community. Across the street from the proposed location of the Little Free Library is Gardener Health Clinic, which was founded to provide affordable medical care to low income cannery workers, and continues to provide much needed access to medical care for families. Also adjacent to the proposed site is a WIC center with community services. The proximity of the two community service buildings provides a steady flow of families that could benefit from a Little Free Library. Additionally, we are in a mixed use, high density neighborhood with a mix of single family homes, Section 8 housing, and below market rate units for families and seniors. The neighborhood has had its’ share of the challenges that are to be found in urban areas, and a Little Free Library would be a positive community connection point for so many. We have lived in our home for 10 years and would love to be a part of maintaining a Library on our property. We hope to bring in the community for a celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony if we are chosen.

Kourtney Mraz | Chicago, IL
This neighborhood is primarily a bilingual Latinx population composed of families with children. Several schools in this area have special education programs and we would love to provide resources for these families, in addition to the general community. We are approximately 2 blocks from a low income community and would also like to serve that community. We would like to provide books, in addition to therapeutic resources, for children of all functional levels. We would also like to provide books in different languages to serve the bilingual community. We are both passionate about educating adults and children and providing free resources to promote social equity.

Erica Novak | Brown County United Way | Green Bay, WI
We All Rise is an African American Resource Center in Green Bay, WI. They offer a holistic approach to helping restore a vibrant African American community. Their community center attracts many community members and their families. We feel a Little Free Library in this location would greatly benefit those who visit the center, as well as individuals living in the surrounding community. The center is located in a low-income community in Green Bay, not far from several Title I schools.

Elizabeth O’Brien | Grace Day School | Yorktown, VA
The Little Free Library will be placed in a new playground that is accessible to all visitors to historic Yorktown. The new playground is handicap accessible and will provide free fun for students at Grace Day School as well as families visiting Yorktown Beach and the Historic National Park. We hope to provide books that will support our mission to love and serve our neighbors. By providing books that are inclusive and portray the wide colors of children and types of families we will start with our very young by modeling care and concern for all in our world.

Chelsea Chelsea | Brooklyn, NY
Brownsville, Brooklyn is a completely underserved community in every single way possible. For context, our public library has been closed for 3 years pending renovations. When it closed initially, it was meant to be closed for 2 years tops. We are now coming into the 4th year with no access to books or resources that my community needs. The closest library is not extremely far, but for the homeless, the elderly and the young who may not have the means or ability to travel this poses a huge problem for them.

Jania Radonis | Girl Scouts Troop 24205 | West Palm Beach, FL
I am a girl scout working on my silver project. I have selected Pat Reeves Village, which is a reach shelter program that provides emergency shelter for families with minor children experiencing homelessness in palm beach county. By having this free library, it will give the children at this facility access to free books. This can help improve literacy rates in the underserved population in my county. I feel that many children will find this library very helpful and really enjoy having it in their community.

Samantha Reda | Bloom Trail High School | Chicago Heights, IL
Bloom Trail High School serves students from 5 local villages. Almost 70% of our students are identified as coming from low-income families. Our LFL will serve our students, their families, including younger siblings, as well as community members. We believe that every child is our child and we want to foster a love of reading and providing free access to books is one way that we can do this. We have successfully given new and gently used books away during conferences. In December, our Art Club spearheaded a donation drive and then hosted a Santa’s bookshop that provided our students the opportunity to select the donated books for their family members for the holidays. We were able to give over 800 books away and would love to see more books infused into our community. Our ultimate goal is to empower our community to share resources with each other. Our LFLs will be a community effort with our carpentry classes building them as well as our special education students managing and maintaining the books. We believe that our LFL will help our Bloom Trailblazer flame illuminate the importance of literacy in our community.

Catrina Sparkman | The Creators Cottage | Madison, WI
The Creators Cottage is a nonprofit neighborhood art studio located in a house in south Madison which is the most ethnically and culturally diverse neighborhood in Madison Wisconsin, with a high target of African Americans. Our service population is made up of women and children of color. We host literary events such as author readings, book launches, community reading groups and writing classes for budding authors. The people who would be using the little free library are individuals who come to the Creators Cottage and participate in our workshops, classes readings and groups. Our space is also located in front of a school bus stop. We would love for children to be able to pick up a book on their way to school. Or even when they return. Although there are several little libraries around the city of Madison, much to our dismay, we almost never see libraries with books dedicated to diverse voices. We would like for the children who live in this neighborhood to open up our little library and see books and stories that speak to them, their experiences and their possibilities.

Heidi Stream | Stream Tiny Farm | Pharr, TX
I am a U.S. Air Force Veteran that lives in a semi-rural, low-income area that is predominantly Latino where illiteracy rates are very high, and English is a second language. I developed an early love for books and reading because my mom read to me almost daily before naps or bedtime. Unfortunately, most families in my area do not have the financial means to purchase books. My goal is to build a Little Free Library in front of my home. There is a community park close nearby and my road gets high foot traffic as a result; especially during late afternoons and weekends. I hope that the LFL will provide access to books to families and children who would not otherwise have the opportunity to read outside of school, and help to improve literacy rates in my area.

Melissa Taylor | Roy Elementary School | Roy, WA
This community is a rural one, positioned between two counties. Each county has a public library program, but those programs are not available to the citizens of Roy. Roy’s public library closed 5 years ago. The only library available for 10+ miles is the elementary school library. Access to that is limited to elementary students, during the school year. Anyone and everyone in the Roy community would have access to the Little Free Library. As the school librarian, I would take on the responsibility of maintaining and managing it, including getting donations for books to keep it stocked. This rural community is quite poor. Lots of my students live with grandparents or foster parents. We’re also close to a military base, so we have a lot of transient students and community members.

Kourtney Wynn | UNITY of Greater New Orleans | New Orleans, LA
I live in the lower 9th ward in New Orleans, Louisiana. This is the poorest Parish in New Orleans. I live next door to a homeless encampment. I believe having access to books is key to getting out of homelessness. Homelessness disrupts education but education is central to getting out of homelessness.

Barbara Franklin | Bartlesville, OK
We live on Osage Nation land on a road that runs between the towns of Pawhuska and Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Our community is made up of rural residents. The children who live in this area are bused thirty minutes away to the Title 1 Barnsdall Public Schools. The nearest library is 11 miles away in Pawhuska. During summer break, the children in our community don’t have access to the school library. There are no stores, community centers, churches, schools, or little libraries within 10 miles of our area. If there were a Little Library here, people could stop on their way to work and choose books for themselves and their children even if they didn’t have time to drive to a nearby city to visit a library. Having a Little Library on this road would be a wonderful opportunity for the people in our community to obtain and share books and connect with each other.

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