New York City Little Free Libraries Featuring Student Art to Debut in 2023

By Margret Aldrich

In New York City, student art will appear on special Little Free Library book-sharing boxes being placed in each of the five boroughs. We were delighted to host an art contest for local students to design this artwork, alongside our longtime collaborators at H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths. Together, we are proud to announce the locations where these Little Free Library boxes will be placed in 2023, from March through August:

  • Manhattan – Mitchell Square Park
  • Brooklyn – Public School 124, plus Local Shelters
  • Staten Island – FerryHawks Stadium, plus Skyline Community Garden
  • Queens – New York City Housing Authority Site
  • Bronx – New York Restoration Project Community Garden
H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths’ Heather Butts (center) with art contest winners and honorable mention recipients. Grand-prize winner Leiyan Semidey is pictured on the right.

The art contest was open this summer for students living in New York City’s five boroughs. Their submissions reimagined the panel artwork on “Read in Color” Little Free Libraries to add a uniquely NYC theme. Read in Color is our program bringing thousands of diverse books to Little Free Libraries across the country. From the submitted entries, one grand-prize winner, four finalists, and ten honorable mentions were selected. Grand-prize winner Leiyan Semidey was honored with her artwork featured on the five NYC Read in Color libraries; eight New York City Football Club tickets; and a $250 gift card.

“It has been an honor to be part of the Little Free Library 5 Borough New York City Art Contest,” said Heather Butts, co-founder and Executive Director at H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths. “We are proud of the students that produced beautiful artwork that will be showcased on new Read In Color NYC-specific Little Free Libraries. Thank you to the partner organizations, students, and our friends at Little Free Library for your dedication to New York City readers, health, and literacy.”

Partner organizations who worked together to select the winners, in addition to LFL and H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths, included New York City Public Schools, New York Restoration Project, Columbia University Irving Medical Center Office of Government and Community Affairs, and Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden.

Grand-prize-winning artwork by Staten Island teenager Leiyan Semidey appears on the side panels of the Little Free Library book-sharing boxes.
Honorable mention artwork from various NYC students appears on the back panel of the Little Free Libraries.

“We were thrilled to join with great community partners for our inaugural Little Free LIbrary Art Contest.” said LFL Executive Director Greig Metzger. “This project created connections, inspired creativity, and provided the platform to expand book access at the neighborhood level. We are especially thankful for the support of our longtime partner, Heather Butts and H.E.A.L.T.H. For Youths. A Little Free Library installation is oftentimes a core component in H.E.A.L.T.H. For Youths’ community-support programs, and we appreciate their commitment to our network. It is humbling to have such wonderful local organizations and literacy advocates rally to support diverse book access.”

The books filling these Little Free Library boxes will celebrate and amplify historically marginalized voices from the Asian American, Black, Indigenous, Jewish, Latinx, LGBTQ, Muslim, and other important communities. Explore our Read in Color recommended reading lists here and get involved by signing the Read in Color Pledge!

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