Announcing Impact Library Program Recipients, December 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. Each applicant demonstrated the importance of access to books in their community or neighborhood in their application. An excerpt in their words:

Briana Beaulieu | Conroe, TX
Everyone should have access to books, lots of folks out here don’t have cars or access. Hopefully, it will help someone else find their love for books.

Beth Black | Second Presbyterian Church Women | Newark, OH
Second Presbyterian Church is located on a corner across from the only hotel in downtown Newark. There is a significant houseless population in the area and the LFL would be just blocks away from a domestic violence shelter, a teen after-school program, St. Vincent dorms for men, and the Salvation Army family dorms/soup kitchen. There is a public library, but it is not open 24/7 and people without an address can’t get a library card. There is good foot traffic in the area with banks, stores, offices and a theatre in walking distance.

Xander Briere | San Francisco Community Health Center | San Francisco, CA
We want to create a little library tailored to our client population. That includes folks experiencing homelessness, folks who use substances, and trans women of color. We also serve transitional-aged youth (12-29) who want community support & representation. We already see client engagement when we host community services, like when we do HIV/Hep C testing events, community dinners, & specialized services. I use reading as a distraction tactic when having conversations about sobriety. We also encourage folks who may not have ID/documentation to access our public library.

Sandy Brooks | St. Louis Arts Chamber of Commerce | Saint Louis, MO
This location is a small school with very limited access to resources and in an area where using a library is largely inaccessible due to issues of transportation. The school is working to become a center of community activity by creating educational parks/gardens, developing community resources and events and becoming a cultural center for their community. The Library will be a step in that direction. This Little Free Library is the most visible first step of the school’s commitment to becoming a cultural center for the community. It will be located in the butterfly garden but the garden will not be really visible until 2024 as the plants grow in. The Little Library is much more accessible to the neighborhood than the local Library due to transportation access.

Lauren Cockrell | Aquilla, TX
Many students at our school do not have access to books at home, or transport to get them somewhere. Our school library does its best to keep books in students’ hands, but books of their own would make a huge impact. This library would strengthen community ties by being at our alumni center and putting books in the hands of our children.

Alexandra Dakessian | McCutcheon Elementary School | Chicago, IL
I am the very Proud Assistant Principal at McCutcheon Elementary School. We are a CPS school in the Uptown Neighborhood of Chicago. We serve one of the most diverse areas in the city – and our small school has English Learners that speak over 30 different languages! Many of our students are refugees that come to our school to find a safe space. About 1/3 of our students are living in transitional living situations – many of our students living in refugee centers or housing and at the Salvation Army. In addition, over 1/3 of our student population receives Special Education services. Our unique space sprawls over two 3 city blocks, with our Middle School being a few streets away from our Main Elementary Building. We also do not have a gym and have been using a community space in order to ensure that our students’ Physical Education minutes are met. With the various needs of our students, their families, and the community as a whole, we are extremely interested in creating a Little Library Community Space to build a feeling of connectedness between the school and the community.

Lauren Deel | Fayetteville, NC
Book access is important because I live in a neighborhood that is a book desert (I had no idea!) and feeds into local Title I schools. Furthermore, our closest public libraries are not conveniently located. They are only a few miles away, but are still in downtown areas that require a “special trip out,” as they are not near any shopping or on the way to/from school. My neighborhood is already very pedestrian-friendly, and I see many older people out walking regularly. Yet, since moving in one year ago, we know that there are more children in the neighborhood than previously assumed, but we still don’t see them playing/walking outside and have no idea where they live. My hope is that the Little Free Library will help pull the kids and teens away from their screens and outside, so that they may meet one another as they connect around books. I would be delighted to see them then perhaps build “real-life” relationships, spending more time outdoors and with one another (as opposed to on screens).

Taneesha Dent | Bunker Hill ES | Washington, DC
Having a Little Free Library in our garden will provide access to literacy materials for both children and adults, judgment free. We are in the process of making our outdoor education space as warm and welcoming as possible not only to our scholars but also to our community as well. We want our garden to invite the community to learn about the importance of having a safe environmental space as well as the importance of literacy. As a public school system, we strive to provide our children with the best learning opportunities possible. By adding a Little Free Library, we hope to inspire our community to come together. By adding a library box we hope to show our neighbors that they are welcome into our space as an important part of the school. Our garden will be a place of rest and comfort for families in the area, as well as the students that attend school there.

Erica Graham | Perth Amboy Board of Education | Perth Amboy, NJ
It is important as many of our students and their families do not have cars and walk locally. Literacy is the best gift to give these students. This would help our preschoolers and elementary students alike. Many of our students do not have the means to go to the bookstore or the library on demand. This will allow our students to get books as they walk home.

Danielle Hernandez-Miller | LIFE Mower County | Austin, MN
We would like to fill the Free Little Library with children’s books that show children of different abilities, children with physical differences, children with special needs, and a diversity of children. We are hoping this will help educate the younger children in our community about differences among their peers and help to promote inclusion, as well as provide free books for families who may not otherwise be able to afford books. When the youth and families take home and read the books we place in the library that show children with differences, it will help educate and hopefully create inclusion in our community.

Beth Hollenbeck | Schenectady City School District | Schenectady, NY
The school library has just reopened after being closed for 2 1/2 years without a librarian. Our library selection is small. Children’s families need easy access to a variety of books to bring the love of reading into their homes. Some families do not have time or transportation to go to the library and having a Little Free Library will make it easier for them to bring books into their homes.

Melissa Jones | Shearn Elementary | Houston, TX
There is a great divide between the Shearn Elementary students and the surrounding community. Many of the students that attend Shearn live in apartment buildings (in the pocket of high poverty in Census Tract 4201, Harris County, Texas) and do not live in the surrounding single family homes. The school is considered 98% economically disadvantaged. Many of our families work multiple jobs to make ends meet and the school is truly the hub that meets their needs both academically and socially. The greatest needs in our school community are food, clothing, school supplies and shoes. Despite our parents working multiple jobs, they are passionate about their student’s academic journey. We would love to support our families with easy access to free books to enhance their student’s learning potential. Since many of our families do not have a vehicle, they walk to drop off and pick up their students.

Karlene Kuhn | Lake Ann, MI
My community is rural and has no access to public transportation and no sidewalks for pedestrian traffic. From the proposed location, to access a public library or another LFL, community members would need to walk on the shoulder of a highway. Options for children or low-income families to access literacy resources are incredibly limited. Over 50% of the students in our district are free/reduced lunch eligible and the community services within Lake Ann are incredibly limited. Additionally: – 40% of children within the county are not kindergarten ready, – 50% of Michigan’s 3rd graders not reading at grade level, – 44% of Benzie County year-round residents at below the poverty level, – 18% of Michigan’s adults are illiterate, this rate is higher in rural communities. I want to make sure that all children and families have access to high-quality, FREE, reading materials.

Alexandria Lamont | Las Vegas, NV
We are surrounded by schools. Our libraries are a distance away and most families here try and do book shares and share our gardens but it would be a great location for a little library because of all the families we have here who are bilingual and want to read to each other, read for distraction, or have access to books without strings attached. It will help put books into children’s hands to res to themselves and their families and the adults over here. We share books with our friends and neighbors best we can and libraries are hard to get to due to distance or parents working and kids not being able to get there. We live in love filled communities that deserve moments to share with our kids. Reading brings everyone together and helps ease the busy mind of the troubles we encounter day to day.

Terri Lampley | Nellie K. Parker Elementary School | Hackensack, NJ
The children at Nellie K. Parker School love to check out books to read daily. When it is time to check out books according to our bi-weekly schedule, the children will always be asked, “Are we checking out books today?” The Little Free Library will allow students to read various types of books and learn how to care for books.

Elina Machin | Miami, FL
Students frequently walk through this area while leaving school at the end of the day, we are surrounded by multiple elementary and middle schools and there is a high school within a few miles as well. It will provide books to the rising Hispanic immigrant population that cannot afford to buy books for their children

Laura Moore | Our Lady of Grace Academy | Racine, WI
Many of our students come from low income homes, with no access to books or the transportation necessary to reach our Racine Public Library. I think it will greatly impact our students by supplying them with free books accessible in a convenient and safe place- our school.

Amber Moore | Fayetteville, NC
Low income community. Job market is poor here. Minority housing. Convenient for those who cannot afford books at home or do not have vehicles.

Andrew Porteous | University of Sioux Falls | Sioux Falls, SD
Our campus serves not only the student population but also the local community as we are not gated and are located in the middle of a largely residential neighborhood. Our Library also has very limited opening hours if someone spontaneously decides they want a book to read. We also work with a lot of students who struggle with basic needs and would not have the means to purchase books. This will provide students and local residents with 24 hour access to the world of literature at no cost. It will bring the student and local communities closer together by sharing and caring for the same resource.

Carmen McGhee | Golden Sugar | Chicago, IL
We need free books, some have lost lifestyle cards, are scared to visit libraries because of the homeless, etc. We will allow children to feel free to get books with no hassle or fear. It will change the community by letting them know someone is concerned for them. Their ability to have access to good books.

Help us bring Little Free Libraries full of books where they’re needed most. Donate today! When you donate, you help us provide libraries to communities like these.

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