Announcing Impact Library Program Recipients, November 2022

By Valarie Kingsland

Congratulations to November’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:

Adrea Benedetti | Impact Humanity Inc. | Adelphi, MD
Book access is important at the location chosen for the library. This is a great area that is well-mapped with young people who are yearning for an education. There are many young people in this community who cannot afford basic needs and would want an opportunity for them to scale in matters of knowledge and be ambassadors of change. The inception of the Free Library will enrich the reading culture of the community, solutions to local problems will be met and effected, and education will be highly promoted and enhanced. The library will also bring the community together and the spirit of communism enhanced and felt. The community will appreciate learning and education as basic commodities to alleviate poverty. The library will also affect an opportunity for writers to form small book clubs that are critical in shaping the reading conversation.

Isabel Campos | El Paso, TX
Listed libraries are in businesses so there is no public access. Better access to books where families don’t have transportation to a local library.

Sidney Choate | Loma Vista Elementary | Salinas, CA
Many families do not know the public library system and would have transportation challenges getting to and from the library. Families love when we give out books from the school but being able to exchange books would benefit multiple families.

Cathy Christiansen | Compass Elementary | Kansas City, MO
My students do not have access to books that they can read at home and I want that for my student’s families. Students and families can pick up books when they come to the school. More access to books will encourage more literacy in the community.

Aven Gehlert | Claire Lilithenal School Scott Campus | San Francisco, CA
Having 24/7 free access to books would be amazing for my community. As a school, we are always looking for ways to bridge the gap and make learning more equitable for all students. By providing low barrier and no cost books in the garden, we could help make sure every student has books at home to read. Not only will the school community benefit, the whole neighborhood will. Hopefully, this little library located in the community garden can spark some new community connections and encourage people to act more sustainably. While the library will be free for community members to take or donate books or seeds, in my garden I also have lots of resources on how to reduce your environmental impact, grow your own food, and live more sustainably. Having this library would reduce barriers to outdoor environmental education and allow anyone in the community to learn in the garden. Encouraging community members to also utilize the seed library can help establish food security and backyard gardens.

Shara Jensen | Washington Montessori PTO | Greensboro, NC
Access to books is so important. We need to get kids excited about reading and books as early as possible. This school serves children as young as 4 years old to 12 years old. Most live in the neighborhood and walk to school. The ability to grab a book on the way home could create a lifelong love of reading and learning. I expect that some children will discover the magic of books and develop a lifelong love of reading. I expect that most of the kids who take books out of the library will share them with their younger siblings, who will gain exposure to books at an earlier age. I expect this library will be an exciting addition to the neighborhood surrounding the school and hopefully inspire others to add a Little Free Library of their own.

Kiana Kirby | Fairmount School | Hackensack, NJ
Book access is important for Fairmount School students because of the lack of access they have to books outside of school hours. Students at Fairmount don’t often visit their local library due to fines or immigration status and don’t have the same access to books that some of their peers do. A Little Free Library will help fill in the accessibility gap to books that students at Fairmount are currently facing. This Little Free Library would be a game changer and allow students to build up their love for reading without the pressure of buying books or being charged fines and late fees at a local library.

Salena Laskowski | Crawford Ausable Day Care and Preschool | Grayling, MI
We serve 65 families yearly and our center would be a great easy spot for families to get books and free resources. More books into children’s hands. This will help get them caught up from COVID and missing so much school time.

Astrid Laurenceau | Cary, NC
I am currently in a district with many school board members and parents aimed at banning classic books. I plan on making a “ banned book” free library to give access to kids to read classics such as “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and “Maus.”

Dylan Lowry | Gaffney, SC
Currently, Gaffney has our one LFL, and the public reception has been so positive that we are looking to add another to provide more books. We are one of the only walkable neighborhoods in our area that serves mostly underprivileged children, and in the six months our LFL has been open we have had over 500 books pass through the library. We would like to expand to be able to add more space for books for tweens and teens, as well as elderly adults who also often walk our neighborhood. While a library is nearby, it closes by 5 pm, before most working adults get off shift-work here making it so the library is inaccessible to a lot of our citizens. There has been expressed interest in expanding our current LFL to continue offering a variety of books to serve our area better.

Lynne McMullen | Junior League | Las Cruces, NM
76% of New Mexico 4th graders read below grade level. We selected these parks because they are in some of the highest crime and lowest income neighborhoods in Cruces, where many parents cannot read in their native languages. Our hope is that access to books will boost parents’ and kids’ interest in reading and raise literacy rates. By providing access to children’s books in English and Spanish in the neighborhoods with the lowest incomes in the county, we hope to help boost childhood literacy rates and engagement with reading.

Sarah Merritt | Columbus, OH
We have tons of kids that live out here and use our blessing box. This would be an ideal place for one. The kids will have something to look forwards to other than food when coming to the blessing box. They will have something just for them.

Samantha Pyles | Blountstown, FL
Because children in this area need more positive impacts and more things to do, if they knew they could go to the library and just pick a book they would go and do that, it gives them a hangout area that is safe and knowledgeable with a positive impact. And, to keep the children involved.

Melissa Ramirez | Grissom Elementary | Chicago, IL
Our school is severely overcrowded and the school library had to be taken away in order to provide space for special education and bilingual education programs. When we placed free books and magazines on a table for students, our students were lit up with joy! This makes us want to be able to provide a little free library to them to encourage them to read for enjoyment. It will create a culture that loves to read and share. Already several parents have begun bringing in books to place on the free table and some students return them and trade them in for new titles for weekend reading. It is exciting to see students disconnect from electronics and see them dig into books.

Julie Ramos | Tucson, AZ
Book access is so important for my neighborhood because there are tons of people who could benefit from free and accessible books to expand their knowledge, joy, and creativity. Reading has been a huge passion of mine since I was a little kid and I still cherish my reading time to this day. If I am able to give back to my underserved community by maintaining a Little Free Library, I would be forever grateful. My neighborhood is poverty stricken and it would be an easy and accessible way for people of all ages to be able to obtain free books.

Erica Riley | Warren, TX
We have a community of children and adults that have a hard time getting access to books. I want to use this as a way to give back to the community in any way possible.

Erin Ross | Davis, CA
There are lots of children in this neighborhood. They would be able to learn a lot from the books we put out and it will be closer than other libraries and easier to get to. There are no other Little Free Libraries around here. I think it would be fun to have one in our front yard. – Mitzi, age 8 We live in the “orange” zone on the book desert map, and in the “orange” level of the poverty map. As a former public health nurse for our county’s Child Welfare Services, I can attest that there are children in our neighborhood that would certainly benefit from increased access to books. Reading skills are key to quality education and prosperous life, and having increased access to books in our neighborhood will benefit all.

Kristen Villalovos | City of Deer Park | Deer Park, TX
Book access is very important to the senior citizens of our community. Reading is linked with a variety of positive outcomes for our older community including enhanced memory retention, sharper decision-making skills, stress reduction, better sleep and to assist in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Reading will help with the connections of spoken and written words and promotes bonding with our seniors at our center. The library provides an opportunity to those who are underserved or on fixed incomes.

Sydney Waters | Old Town Cape Inc. | Cape Girardeau, MO
Book access downtown in our Farmer’s Market lot would be extremely impactful due to the high volume of foot traffic from Cape Girardeau and surrounding inner city areas. We are also applying for the Snap program at our market this year and I think the library partnered with Snap will be a wonderful hub for the community. Access to books in this library will impact so many people, children, and families getting fresh produce through the Snap program at our Cape Riverfront Market.

Eleashia Wells | Ms. Ezzz Learn & Grow Family Child Care Center | Canton, OH
Vienna Woods is my housing unit and it houses 72 4 bdrm. Units with families. Local libraries are 3.5 miles or more. We do have a bus that comes one mile away on Tuesdays (Stark County library. This will be beneficial for all residents and staff in Vienna Woods and surrounding residents in this area. I hardly see children outside so I would like to have books accessible for those that love books like myself and they will go tell their friends & family where they received the books.

Karen Wharton | San Marcos, CA
The community where I live has a large population of young children, so having this close proximity access to books would be beneficial. When we instill reading habits in young people we set them on the path to becoming more educated, productive members of society as a whole. I believe this Little Free Library will greatly benefit our community. It will allow families to share from their own personal libraries and have free and easy access to new books. This program will benefit not only young people but adults who are needing a good book to read as well. Some of our community members are elderly and rarely leave the neighborhood so this will be a great option for them. I think that having a Little Free Library will enhance the culture of our community and create more readers!

Mykenzie Johnson | The Bay Park Conservancy | Sarasota, FL
The Bay is open and accessible, free, and welcoming to the full and rich diversity of the community. Book access here is important as we continue to become an iconic, public destination. Our park serves as a venue for multi-generational, inter-neighborhood, and broad-based enjoyment of our beautiful bay front. People of all ages and walks of life will come to visit our reading nook and we hope that reading on site is a part of the many special memories park guests will create here! There are many children and adults who will visit our park who may otherwise not have access to the transformative power of books. I think this will encourage individuals and families alike to make regular trips to our park where they can enjoy reading and discovering new stories in serene nature.

Jessica Marro | Falynn’s Book Club | Pelzer, SC
There are two existing free lending libraries in the area: one at a middle school, and one at a residence. Neither allows ease of access for elementary students that are from our Title 1 school. The small town has ALL public events at the park in which we would be installing a library. In our area, children use the park for sports, community groups, religious meetings, town meetings, and for recreation. Kids encouraging their peers to read is HUGE! Falynn’s Book Club has about 201 members with a daily audience of preschool and elementary children virtually reading books together. Having access to new, diverse, different books is the issue in our small town with limited books in libraries and schools. A dedicated library in a traffic heavy location will allow these kids to tangibly have and share the books they enjoy virtually.

Jane Hardman | Parkersburg Woman’s Club | Parkersburg, WV
The little free library attracts patrons to the park and it is always open. High traffic area for all ages. The public library is not nearby. Little Free Library offers books for all ages.

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