Make Book-Sharing Part of Your Community Policing Efforts
Little Free Library’s book-sharing program helps law enforcement and civic groups create positive interactions with youth. Centered around small physical boxes of books and operating on the principal of “take a book, share a book,” the program invites community connections while supporting literacy.
The Brooklyn Police Department, featured in the adjacent video, are one of many law enforcement groups who have leveraged the power of the Little Free Library book-sharing program to build trust with young people in their area!
Below you’ll find:
Connecting Kids and Law Enforcement Through Book Sharing
Little Free Library’s book-sharing program benefits community law enforcement efforts in four ways:
- Supporting literacy. LFL book exchanges improve book access and thus help improve low literacy rates. Recent research by the Department of Justice shows that low literacy is strongly connected to crime and delinquency; by providing book access, police officers help stop delinquency issues before they start.
- Forging new partnerships. A Little Free Library program can attract new partnerships with community groups and demonstrate a heightened commitment to neighborhoods served.
- Opening the door to additional services. Activities such as book drives, story times, and other events give reasons for officers to interact directly with kids and their parents. In addition to generally promoting public trust, these interactions have led adults to pursue other programs with their local police.
- Providing stories of community service. The colorful book exchanges and supportive interactions provide opportunities for positive publicity and make for great stories in the press, expanding the good feelings beyond the immediate neighborhood served.
Take advantage of the benefits a Little Free Library program could bring to your department! Contact us at customerservice(at)littlefreelibrary.org and get started today!
“The LAPD wants to help promote literacy by building safe places for young people to read. We are also building a sense of community allowing young people to see that police officers are real people.”
Success Stories: See What You Can Achieve with a Little Free Library Program
When the Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bike Cops for Kids project added books to their cycling program, they noticed that grown-ups liked what they saw happening and wanted to meet the participating officers. Photo credit: Bike Cops for Kids
In Lake Worth, Florida, police officers have mobile LFL book exchanges in their cars! This way they can hand out books to kids in the community and create fun moments where the kids can get to know the officers in a positive way. They also have a book exchange in one of their station lobbies.
Canton, Ohio’s police department sports a brightly colored LFL bookshelf in its lobby that makes books available to the children who accompany their parents to the station. It provides a positive presence in what can be an intimidating situation.
Four Components to a Little Free Library Program
An LFL book-sharing program is meant to be adapted to the needs and interests of the local community. This flexible set of products and best practices can be effective in a variety of settings, from small rural towns to big cities. Key program components include the following:
Precinct Libraries: Police stations often begin with a single Little Free Library book-sharing box outside or in the reception area where families will see it. When parents go to a station to conduct police business, the book exchange can provide kids with an upbeat distraction and a positive reinforcement of reading habits.
Mobile Libraries: With this approach, a squad car designated for neighborhood engagement carries an official Little Free Library tote box full of books in its trunk. Large magnetic signs on the car doors that say “We Share Books,” invite kids to the car for a free book and an opportunity to talk with an officer about reading. The portability allows books to become part of activities in parks, playgrounds, schools, and other settings in which community policing officers are involved.
Library Networks: In larger communities, a network of LFL book-sharing boxes may be desirable. Involving local schools, public libraries, or other neighborhood organizations in establishing and maintaining the book exchanges can strengthen community bonds. Officers can be a visible part of setting up the exchanges and distributing books, establishing new patterns of interaction with citizens and institutions.
Book-Centered Events and Activities: Hosting events such as book swaps, story times, and sociable book parties serve to energize the presence of LFL book exchanges and assure their incorporation into community life. Some stations may want to coordinate a kit-building event that puts new book exchanges in neighborhoods, or host a mini festival complete with music and games that support positive interactions while motivating everyone to read more.