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.

Julie Ezell | Edmond, OK 

This community is a predominantly African American community with around 30% of the area residents living below the poverty line. There are many children, teens, and elderly in the area. It will provide the community with books for all ages and interests, and it will also tell the community they are valued and supported. Many people in this area do not have the resources to fully access education, much less libraries and books. Books on a variety of topics can not only inspire them, give a mental vacation, etc. but can help further educate them and help them attain resources and learn how to better access and contribute to the greater community.

Stacy Correale | Madison Avenue School | Irvington, NJ

The Irvington community has many families that are financially struggling. Unfortunately, books are a luxury that many families in the community can’t afford. The children love to read and listen to stories and books are scarce in their home. Little Free Library would be another valuable resource to make books readily available especially when schools are closed. It would be located outside of Madison Avenue Elementary School (pre-k-5 ) The focus would be on children’s books that children can read on their own or parents can read to their children. This resource would greatly benefit the children in our community by providing easy access to books when schools are closed and help foster a love of reading for children with their families. I am the school librarian. I would check on the box on a regular basis to make sure that books are available, appropriate and in good condition. I will actively seek opportunities to receive donations to replenish for our Little Free Library. Replenishing the library would be achieved through donations and grants that I apply for to replenish the library. I would sanitize and keep our library clean and inviting throughout the school year even while school is not in session.

Jacy Gatewood | Olathe, KS 

My dear friend Maryam Syed has put her heart and soul into her passion – the A2Z academic foundation. An affordable in-home daycare which has recently expanded into a larger building just beyond the train tracks in downtown Olathe, Kansas. Maryam serves a community of hardworking parents who entrust their most precious assets to her care each day. In the coming weeks, I am creating an engaging landscape space at the front entrance of the building. Where once there were weeds; colorful plants and a space to stop and sit awhile will bloom in their place.  I would love for a little library to be right there, outside the door- a welcome greeting to the families each day, a fond farewell and a bedtime story as they leave. A focal point for all the neighbors who pass by, to enjoy the once dilapidated church of years past, turned wholesome community space, regenerated for the years to come. 

Virginia Haddad | Sea View Elementary School | Salton City, CA 

I once read Doctors Without Borders describe us as “California’s Third Word.” This is a rural, semi-desolate desert community; with only a tiny public library staffed by a clerk just a few days a week in a distant corner of town. Transportation is a problem for many families, so most kids have never been to our micro library. The school name “Sea View” refers to the view we have of the Salton Sea, an ecological disaster. When winds blow, we are subject to toxicity from its greatly receding shoreline. Nevertheless we’re mighty in aspirations! In 2015, kids at our little school had an official state amphibian named for California. Do Google this! We sent two of our students to Sacramento to speak before the State Assembly. They argued on behalf of the California red legged frog, star of Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” I teach at Sea View Elementary School. I don’t like kids constantly reading books online. I want them to develop a love of printed books. My goal is to get at least four more Little Libraries via donations from civic clubs so that all kids here have access to printed books of quality content. We are an area well known for its poverty, but we are less than an hour away from very affluent communities such as Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, etc., and in the past, when we asked for help, from individual or community organizations of those areas, we were helped generously. I’m sure when our books run out, they will help us, and also I assume the head Imperial County Public Librarian will help us out with donations when we run out. 

Carolina Jackson | Eugene, OR 

We live on a corner and have a spot where I would love to place the Little free library. I would also be interested in making sure that the library includes books in Spanish, books about diversity and books that could help our community better understand and embrace diversity. I am an immigrant living in a very white community in Oregon and I think this would be a great way to encourage both literacy and diversity. My husband works at our local city Library, so he often has access to books that are getting out of circulation, he also reads a lot and we go through many books. As my kids grow I want them to also be involved and share their books. With the Little free library we would have a way to share many books to the community. The cost is more than what we can afford now but we would love to apply for the grant to get help setting up a little library for our community. I can fill it up with books and maintain it, I just need help with the structure itself. My family and I would make sure to share books after we are down with them, take donations of books from friends and family and keep an eye for any opportunities for new books to share. Also, my husband works for the library and he could get more books when books are taken out of circulation. Also my mother in law works at a retirement home; often people move out and leave lots of books that get donated to Goodwill, I can ask to be donated to our Little Free Library instead.

Lauren Kohls | Operation Pathways | Washington, DC 

Our community is a low income housing community in South East Washington, DC. The income level of residents here is 60% or below the median income of the area, but many residents fall lower than that percentage point. It is a predominantly black community with over 400 residents, and many children. Our dream is to create a library here that hosts books from black or minority writers and illustrators and that champions diverse heroes and heroines. We want the kids here at Woodmont to know that they can achieve anything! It can be hard for kids to escape the crime and violence of South East DC. A little free library would help us give them an avenue to dream big & to let their imaginations run wild, to learn and to strive for education, to know that their potential is limitless, and to believe in themselves! We would like to host book readings/discussions to the kids on site monthly or quarterly! We would also like to add adult books to the little library, possibly geared to our senior population! Our public libraries have been closed due to COVID-19, and are only open for printing . A library would be wonderful! Here at Woodmont, our staff would help check the little library to make sure there was a steady flow of book sharing. We would also send out reminders to residents to donate books they are no longer reading, and to return books once complete! We also intend to get into contact with some of our local book stores to find out if they would be interested in donating books to our little library. 

Michele Ortega | El Camino Real Academy | Santa Fe, NM 

The community being served by the Little Free Library is a large trailer park (461 homes) adjacent to the k-8 school where I am assistant principal. Many students who attend our school live in this trailer park. It is very far from a public library, far from a grocery store and has poor internet service. Because of the pandemic, public libraries have been closed since March. The only way to read a book was if you were fortunate enough to have access to online books. The importance of the network of Little Free Libraries became even more necessary. I installed one at my house and wanted to share this opportunity with students from my school, El Camino Real Academy. School teachers from El Camino Real Academy will sponsor the library on a rotating basis. Sponsorship entails filling the library with books, maintaining the library in a clean, organized manner.

Tia Patrick | Memphis, TN 

My community is the second historically African American community in the United States. After desegregation, busing, white flight, red lining and the drug boom and mass incarceration this once thriving community is impoverished with few homeowners. All community schools are Title one schools. Looking at the little library map you will see that all the communities surrounding my address light up while nothing is to be found within a comfortable walking distance of the adults and children here. This library would serve this overlooked community of adults and children and is the ideal location considering it is mostly a pedestrian community. My address is on a thoroughfare for foot traffic. It would be a blessing. I will give neighbor kids books that my children out grow but it doesn’t address the adults that may also want to read. There is a lower reading proficiency and the community schools are all testing under state and national scores. What a gift a little library would be for the Orange Mound community!!!

Sara Thomas | Midland ISD | Midland, TX 

I am a librarian at a school called Rusk Elementary in Midland, TX. This is a relatively small school (about 400 students) that serves many locally located students, so we do not have many that take a bus to get here and most live within walking distance. Our school is a Title 1 campus, and the 18-19 school report card indicated that 50% of our population is economically disadvantaged. 16% are English Language Learners and 8% are classified as Special Education. During the summer months, and especially when COVID19 hit and schools were closed, students do not have easy access to books to read unless they have a ride to the local public library or have the funds to purchase books. Unfortunately, most students’ have parents who work full time and cannot give them rides to the public library. Many of the families also do not have excess funds to spend on books. As I was brainstorming ways to make books accessible to these students, I came across the Little Free Library. If I had a Free Little Library that I could stock with books, the students would be within walking distance of their next, great read!

Blair Whitney | Redwood City, CA 

The North Fair Oaks community is an urban unincorporated pocket of San Mateo County (with approximately 14,800 people) located between Redwood City to the North and affluent Atherton to the South. Made up of a majority Hispanic population, many of the county’s immigrants find affordable housing in this community which struggles to have its own sense of pride and identity. While I’ve seen lots of Little Free Libraries in neighboring communities such as Menlo Park and Redwood City, bicycling around my own community, I have not seen a single one. I hope to share both book and food resources in the little free library. We have a great community garden a block away and one of the local public libraries (Palo Alto, CA) has a “seed library” system where people can share seeds that came from and perform well in the local area. I’d like to include this same concept with my local free library – lots of neighbors grow produce both in the community garden boxes and in front, back and side yards and I’m pretty sure I would enjoy sharing seeds for everything from corn to pumpkins and coriander, etc.

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