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.

Meet the recipients, and read why they applied for an Impact Library:

Cydney Brown | South Pittsburg Elementary PTO | South Pittsburg, TN    

I’m the PTO president for South Pittsburg Elementary, which is a Title 1 elementary school in a rural community. In 2019, only 24.5% of our students are at or above grade level in English Language Arts, which was a 6.4% decrease from prior year. We use the Accelerated Reading Program at school, but many of our students do not meet their goals. The school library is only available during school hours, and only one book can be checked out at a time. This is limiting, and there are often times that our children don’t have a current book to read. I believe that we could have an amazing community impact with this project…not only for the elementary school children being served with the books, but to bring awareness to our community of our need for heightened literacy. I have begun a collection of books for grades prek-6, and our PTO team will be dedicated to continue the flow of books in our box on a weekly basis. We will regularly seek donations from parents, local charitable organizations, or purchase discounted used books for our students. We will also regularly check our box to make certain that books haven’t been vandalized, and that age appropriate material is being provided. I would love for the book-sharing box to be outside, so that our students would have access after school and on weekends to share books.

 

Mac Capwell | Mattapan, MA

The library would go in the Woolson Street Garden, which is a community garden located in a historically Black and low income neighborhood in Boston. The neighborhood is home to mostly Black and Latinx residents, and many are immigrants from the Caribbean. The garden was created using an empty lot that belonged to the city after residents organized to do something with the land following two shootings that occurred there in 2010. Residents of the neighborhood can apply to have garden plots, and the garden hosts events during the growing season. The library would be accessible to gardeners and people who pass by on the street. I envision that at least to start the library would focus primarily on books for children and on books related to cooking, food, Black and Caribbean culture and cooking traditions, and cultural and community empowerment. I will commit to supplying some books regularly. The garden also has a partnership with the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, and members would likely chip in and donate either books or funding to purchase books. The garden also hosts events during the summer, and attendees could be asked to bring a book or two to add to the library. The garden would plan an event specific to the opening of the little library and ask attendees to bring books. Finally, the garden is in close proximity to the local library which often gives away free books and would likely give some to this little library.

 

Leah Clark | Science and Technology Academy – A Mott Hall School | Bronx, NY

The little free library would be installed at my school’s campus IS 166 Roberto Clemente, a building serving over 1200 K-12 students. Our neighborhood in the South Bronx is the poorest in NYC, with 44% of people living below the poverty line. There is a single general interest bookstore serving the entire borough of more than 1.4 million people. My students and their families are hungry for books and many own very few themselves. The little free library would be an invaluable resource for our school community. We are continually weeding our school library and the free library would be one recipient for these weeded books. In addition, our school librarian club is very involved in community service and would gladly take on the task of a book drive to fill it.

 

Tracy Gaynor | Hiram, GA

Hiram, Georgia is a small metro Atlanta suburb 30 miles west of the city. This area is low income and most of the residents live in several apartment complexes and work in the large retail shopping center within walking distance. The people who will be using the Little Free Library will be apartment residents, community members shopping at the large retail area, students at the local elementary Title 1 school, and other community members using the Comet Trail for walking or bike riding. The area for the LFL will be a high traffic area and I firmly believe it will be used by members of our community who may not have a ride to the library, may be intimidated to go get a library card, or by children whose parents may not take them to the library. I am an educator in the area and I have a large network of educators who will be more than happy to help me maintain a flow of books. I also know through social media, other community charities, and churches, we will have plenty of books to keep it stocked and able to rotate different titles. I shop in the area frequently and would be able to stop by weekly to check on the book supply and adjust things as needed.

 

Chris Mernin | Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond | Petersburg, VA 

The Little Free Library will be placed outside the entrance to our Petersburg Boys & Girls Club location. Over 105 youth attend daily coming from under-resourced communities and Title 1 schools. Their parents, grandparents and siblings will also pass by the library when picking up their child from our program. The library will be next to a sidewalk and community park giving access to individuals living in low income housing areas throughout the neighborhood. All age groups will interact with the library especially youth. As we grow our reading programs we want to provide as many opportunities as possible for our students to combat current statistics around reading under grade level as well as lowering the amount of screen time and reducing brain development problems associated with technology use. If we receive a kit our youth and volunteers will construct it, giving ownership to our students to maintain it. This will also be the second Little Free Library in the entire city, which currently sits on the opposite side of the city. The Boys and Girls Clubs has a partnership with 2nd & Charles Book Store as well as holding book donation drives. Our youth leadership group at the club site will be responsible for maintaining the little library and restocking it with donations as well as spreading the word about the resource to the community.

 

Kathleen Russell | Bishop, CA

We are two small, isolated communities-Paradise and Swall Meadows-located between the towns of Mammoth Lakes and Bishop, California. One must drive at least fifteen to twenty miles to the nearest library. Both communities are a mixture of retired individuals, families with children, and people desiring to live in a rural setting. There is no retail business in our proximity. The local volunteer fire departments provide most of the cohesion of both Paradise and Swall Meadows through fundraisers and volunteer activities. There is no post office to draw us together. We are roughly ten miles from the closest school-a K-5th grade elementary school. The area is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and there is well-known and maintained bike and hiking trail in the community. It is in the parking lot of Lower Rock Creek Trail that I propose establishing a Little Free Library. Most community members pass this as they are travelling to Bishop to shop, work, or attend school. In addition, many tourists utilize the recreational trail and they would often be drawn to the library. I am a retired school teacher who is eager to clear my garage and closets of the thousands of books my family has acquired through the years.

 

Elisabeth Stelson | Boston, MA

As an educator and daughter of a children’s writer, I would love to open a Little Free Library outside my home to provide the exchange of free books in my neighborhood. My neighborhood in Boston is home to large Haitian and Dominican community and our library branch is now “closed for renovations” with no identified reopening date. I believe that my house is an ideal spot for a library since I live on the corner of a major street near a bus stop with 3 bus lines. There are also three barber stores and a corner store right across the street which also function as community hang-out spots, and there is a lot of foot-traffic of children walking to the elementary school up the street. In addition to the “take one, leave one” policy of the Little Free Library, I would aim to provide books in French, Spanish, and children’s book so that everybody would feel welcome to see if something piqued their interest inside. I also plan to create a flier to put in mailboxes on my street to ask my neighbors to donate their used books. My street is very tight-knit and community-oriented (black parties, cook-outs etc.) and my neighbors will help me to maintain a steady flow of books.

 

Cheryl Latsch | Muskegon County Great Start Parent Coalition | Muskegon, MI

The Little Free Library will be positioned in the lobby of the East Park Manor, a public housing apartment complex in Muskegon Heights, Michigan. It will make free books available to children and adults who reside in a school district that records average test scores at 10%, 80% lower than the national average; a district where minority enrollment is 98%, and 85% of the students are economically disadvantaged. A Little Free Library will make it possible for the children who live in “the projects”, and where transportation is an issue, to have easy and ongoing access to quality reading material. Maintaining the Little Free Library will be the task of the Muskegon County Great Start Parent Coalition. Books will be provided through our relationship with the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District, the local Goodwill and other area literacy organizations.

 

Marissa Beam | Minneapolis, MN

This community is low-income and diverse with a variety of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. While the map shows that there are other Little Free Libraries in the community, they are all on opposite ends of the neighborhoods and I fall in the middle of a “dead zone” of sorts. There are a lot of children of varying ages around here and while there are libraries within a couple miles of my house, many of the adults in the community work long and/or non-traditional hours which makes it hard for many to access the library. Additionally, many families in the area don’t have cars and have limited access to funds for bus fares. Having a Free Little Library that is a short walk away and open 24/7 would make books more accessible for the adults and children in this community alike. Furthermore, I would like to host story times and other literacy-focused events in my front yard which could be enormously helpful to maintaining child literacy through the summer. I volunteered in my public library growing up and my schedule doesn’t allow for that any more so I would love to do this as my schedule now allows.  My parents just shipped me every book I have ever owned in my entire life which includes about 800 lbs. of books. While some of them are books I would like to keep for myself, most of them are books I would like to use to keep a Little Free Library fully stocked.

 

The Impact Library Program is largely funded by individual donations and Little Free Library’s earned revenue from our online store. You can help bring Little Free Libraries full of books to communities where they’re needed most. Donate here.

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