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 reading motivation.
Mayling Wong-Squires | Christ Covenant Church | Villa Park, IL
This Little Free Library will be located in the northern part of Villa Park, IL at Christ Covenant Church. Villa Park is a suburb of Chicago. The surrounding neighborhood is made up of working-class families. The elementary, junior high, and high school for this neighborhood are all Title I. At the elementary and junior high schools, over 60% of the students qualify for free lunch or reduced-price lunch, and 68% of the students are minorities, mostly Hispanic. A Little Free Library in this neighborhood will provide books that include authors and stories of people that represent the families of the neighborhood, both in English and Spanish. The intention is to provide a glimpse of the rich culture among Hispanic-American and African-American lives around the country. This Little Free Library will serve as a supplement to the church’s food pantry while also be accessible to the neighborhood at all times. During these uncertain times of school shutdowns due to COVID-19, this LFL can help in a small way provide additional reading material to neighborhood students.
Shannon Gibney | Lynn, MA
The community where I would like to curate a Little Free Library is a lower middle class neighborhood consisting of a mixture of single family and multi family homes. We are in walking distance of Thurgood Marshall Middle school which educates children in the 6-8 grade. In the 2018-2019 school year there were 1,316 students enrolled, 932 of which identify as Hispanic. 811 of the 1,316 enrolled students live in households which receive Supplemental Nutritional Assistance (SNAP) or other government assistance and as such are eligible to receive free lunch. It is my goal to partner with the principal of the middle school in order to add books which would be of interest to the student population but also would tie in with subjects they are studying. My location is also steps away from Swampscott Commuter Rail (MBTA) station which serves an average of 891 riders per weekday. I would hope to stock books that would be of interest to this demographic as well, possibly in the future adding a second box to the library. Lastly my library location is less than a mile away from the nearest beach where many people walk daily.
Sandy Bates | Hinesville, GA
We are a smaller community outside of a military base with Title 1 schools. My own children as well as the community members will be able to enjoy the free books. It will encourage reading especially during this time of COVID-19. Personally we have hundreds of books to share and our children are beginning to outgrow some so having a Little Free Library would be a wonderful way to share them with our community. We also have many family members and neighbors who will be able to help keep it stocked with a good variety of books. I first saw a Little Free LIbrary in 2012 when I lived in Louisiana and have wanted to start my own ever since – now that we settled down after military retirement, the timing is perfect.
Kelly Sterms | Walking Books Library | East Dixfield, ME
This will be housed at a generational swimming hole in the village of East Dixfield, Maine. People from surrounding towns have enjoyed playing there as well. The area is rural and was named one of the 10 most “affordable” areas in Maine. A home here on 2 acres recently sold for $15k. Men and women tend to work labor jobs…cutting trees, road crew, housekeeping, etc. Housing includes trailers, old farmhouses, tents, cabins and traditional homes. People will enjoy quality books for themselves and to give as gifts for birthdays, etc. We do not mark the new, free books on purpose for that reason. We want to encourage the pride of sharing and gifting great books. We have also done projects in the past where local kids got a new carton to give to classmates.
Christine Ayers | Polson, MT
We are a small community on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. We have many families and community members who love to read but lack the resources to bring books to their homes. Our fourth grade class would love to make this free library available outside our elementary school. It is vital that our children have access to books at home that they love, can connect to and we believe this free library will be cherished by our community. We will continually stock the library with books donated by the students, teachers and community members. We hope to have school fundraisers to buy books for the library once a year. The local tribal college is partnering with us to help provide diverse books that will amplify voices in our community.
Tyler Warner | Change Today Change Tomorrow | Louisville, KY
Change Today Change Tomorrow serves predominantly Black and lower income families in Louisville, KY. Our new offices are located in the Butchertown neighborhood of Louisville, which will have high foot traffic as well as attract community members through our outreach programs. We are a Black-Woman lead organization, taking a multi-faceted outreach approach to solving food insecurity and economic inequality in the West End of Louisville. The little library will be a part of our office’s 24 hour services: a community garden and open pantry. It is our hope that the library will serve a variety of people who do not have free access to books during the COVID 19 outbreak and after. CTCT serves as a crossroads for many people. We work with everyone from corporate donors to the homeless on a weekly basis. Education is one of the main tenets of our mission, and we have already identified partners willing to donate books that would be able to stock the library for a variety of people.
David Robins | Edmondson Heights Elementary School| Gwyns Falls, MD
I am the Library Media Specialist for Edmondson Heights Elementary (a Title I school). My school sits in the middle of an Urban Book Desert and we work hard to push as many books out the door as we can but with the closure of our building due to the pandemic many students have limited access to books. This will extend into the fall and winter as our system continues with virtual instruction. I am desperate for ways to get books circulating again in the community and a Little Free Library would be a great first step in reestablishing our school’s physical commitment to literacy in the neighborhood. Most of my students live at or below the poverty line. Many of the families must work multiple jobs to support themselves and have limited time/transportation to travel to our local library. Our local public library is 2.5 miles away on the other side of a multi-lane highway. Compounding the challenges of poverty in the community, we also serve a growing immigrant population whose first language is not English and look to the school for help in learning English and supporting reading at home for multiple generations. This is a resource to help us build bridges. There are several other literacy-based projects that are in the initial planning stages that the Little Free Library would be an anchor for around our school community. We are working towards establishing a Reading Garden/ Classroom and a Literacy Action Path that will connect Physical Education, Art, Music, and Movement with a story that will be staged at various stations around the school’s campus. We would love for the Little Free Library to be the start and finish for our Literacy Action Path.
Hannah Moore | Lake Whatcom Residential & Treatment Center | Bellingham, WA
LWC’s purpose is to provide residential care and community outpatient mental health programs and treatment in a psycho-social rehabilitation model for chronically mentally ill adults to facilitate their achieving and maintaining an optimal level of independence, health, and fulfillment. I would like to install the little free library in an apartment complex that houses individuals who have been homeless or at risk of homelessness. Many of our tenants live on a very limited income, and cannot afford to purchase books. Further, our tenants may have difficulty getting to the library and returning books on-time. The community library would be a huge benefit to our community.
WIlma Workman | Blenheim, SC
Blenheim does not currently have a LFL and the nearest public library is located in the city of Bennettsville which is approximately 10 miles away. Many of the residents of Blenheim live well below the poverty level and many do not have access to reliable transportation. Marlboro County is designated as a high poverty area by the USDA. The potential location that I have already sought out is the James Philip Thomas Memorial Park located beside the Post Office. This location also has a historical marker, ensuring more attention & foot traffic. I hope to not only support their reading habits by having books available to them in their community, but also to motivate them to read. Blenheim falls in the bottom 50% in the overall school ranking; reading proficiency is 9 % (bottom 50% of the state of SC); the Diversity Score ranks at 40 (again the bottom 50 % of the state). Blenheim Elementary/Middle School teaches Pre-K through Grade 8. They have on average, 569 students. The school system in Blenheim qualifies for 100% free lunch and is classified as Title 1. Due to COVID-19, our unemployment rate (which was 3.7%, in 2019) has increased drastically. The town/community of Blenheim, SC will greatly benefit from this LFL location.