Steward Spotlight: Village of Walpi

By Sarah Nelson

The nearest library to the Hopi reservation is in a town more than 60 miles away, and Lori Nuvayestewa, Walpi Senior Youth Coordinator, wanted to change that. Lori worked with Little Free Library to get a book sharing box put in at the Walpi Administrative Offices to serve the public. This new Little Free Library is part of the organization’s Read in Color initiative and will be filled with books that amplify BIPOC, LGBTQ, and other diverse voices, with a focus on titles that explore experiences from the Indigenous and Native American Peoples. 

“During these unprecedented times,” Lori said, “I wanted to give back to the community by providing a free service where youth and adults can visit and pick up a book, school supplies, and activity books. While we are social-distancing and taking all necessary precautions, having a safe place to go, and simply picking up a book creates excitement for both youth and adults.”

You can use the Little Free Library mobile app to find Little Free Library locations in your area!

The top box: Silhouette of First Mesa. Lower box: The San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, AZ. Hopi revere the mountain as a sacred and holy place of worship.
Top box is the silhouette of Walpi when entering the village.
Silhouette of First Mesa at sunset.

Why did you feel a Little Free Library would benefit the Village of Walpi?

Living on the Hopi reservation the nearest town is 60+ miles away and some families are limited in their means so having a Little Free Library is a way to provide free books to encourage early literacy for our youth. By bringing diverse books by Indigenous authors to underserved communities, like Hopi, will give youth a glimpse of themselves in these books. Along with bringing inclusive literature to Hopi, I want to emphasize the importance of early learning and nurturing growing minds. This will create healthy development at a very young age and create a love of learning that will help them succeed through grade school, high school, college, and in life.

Where is the Little Free Library located and who will maintain it?

The Little Free Library is located on the Hopi reservation at the Walpi administration building and is maintained by Lori Nuvayestewa, the Youth Program Coordinator for the Village of Walpi. The Hopi Tribe has 12 villages located across 3 mesas and the Little Free Library is the first of its kind here on Hopi.

How are you spreading the word about the library to the community? Did you have a Grand Opening event?

I created a Walpi Little Free Library Facebook page where I feature book titles and share what the LFL is about. A press release was sent to the local newspaper, the Tutuveni, and a local newsletter to feature the LFL Grand Opening. An announcement was also sent to our local radio station, KUYI, and was aired during the Community Announcements.

Yes, we did have a Grand Opening event on Saturday, March 26, 2022. Books were distributed along with school supplies that were donated by a local non-profit. In addition to the launch, another non-profit First Things First had a booth set up sharing their own books and information about their program.

Steward Lori Nuvayestewa
Youth donating books

How has the community responded to the Little Free Library since it’s been open?

I have received positive feedback and boxes and boxes of books that were donated to the LFL. More than I had space for and it was a great way to start out as I was unsure of how I would keep the library stocked. Children are anxious to donate books and take books in return.

What has surprised you the most since installing the Little Free Library?

Starting the LFL I had the impression that I would need to seek donations from organizations, thrift stores or elsewhere but my community has stepped up 100% by donating so many books. Youth reads, to young adult and adult reads have been coming in by the box load. Everyone’s generosity will keep the Walpi Little Free Library stocked for months!

Interested in starting your own Little Free Library? Shop our selection, or read up on how to build your own!

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