Anna Kelly works in an Indianapolis, Indiana, school where about 85% of the students are on free or reduced-lunch. “Our kids come to school each day because it is a safe haven to provide for their basic needs as well as learn,” says Anna.

She wanted to get books in the hands of these kids who needed them so badly. Then in 2018, she discovered Little Free Library’s Impact Library Program and applied for a no-cost library. She was granted one which she place by her school’s front entrance.

We recently checked in with Anna and were thrilled to hear that her Little Free Library book box is thriving. “I love that our Impact Library is open 24/7/365 for everyone in our community,” she says. “On breaks and weekends, students have access to books, and so do their parents.”

The Impact Library granted to the school where Anna Kelly taught in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Why did you apply for an Impact Little Free Library?

“I am a teacher in a very diverse school district. As teachers, we pride ourselves on our creativity in the classroom to get kids excited about learning, and especially reading. While some families at my school had access to books at home, many couldn’t get to the public library due to work schedules and transportation.

“Some families needed books in their native language so parents could help their students learn to read. And of course, we ALL benefit from the excitement of picking a new book! Students visit the school library weekly, but so many of them wanted even more books or wanted books they could call their own. I figured a Little Free Library at the elementary school where I work would be a unique way to get more books in kids’ hands.”

How has your Little Free Library had a positive impact on your community?

“I love that our Impact Library is open 24/7/365 for everyone in our community. On breaks and weekends, students have access to books, and so do their parents. When parents come to school for conferences, they can stop and pick out a book for their student or themselves on the way into school. Teachers who switch grade levels or have extra copies of books often put them in the library for others to find and enjoy. After Talent Show practices, Running Club, and other activities, students can get books while waiting for their rides and the bus.”

 Are there any particular moments you’d like to share?

“My favorite moment so far has been watching preschoolers’ eyes light up as they come for Kindergarten screenings and are told they can pick out any book they want on their way back to their car.”

How many books would you estimate have been shared through the little library?

“The school is located on a walking path and has sidewalks connecting nearby neighborhoods … it’s near several public bus stops in addition to the daily school foot traffic. I estimate 50 – 75 books are circulated each month through our Impact Library. Very few books are returned.

“At first, I was worried that the library was a little sparse and would run out of books. Thankfully, our community partners, volunteers, and donors have noticed our library while checking in and have left books. Informing our school community about the purpose of the library has also helped encourage people to leave books.

“While I initially thought the library would have mostly children’s books since it is located at an elementary school, I have been surprised to see board books for babies all the way up to novels for adults turn up. At back-to-school time, there are several boxes of crayons and notebooks that appear for students and teachers to use.”

Though Anna now teaches at a different school in the district (which has its own little library!), she still stewards the Impact Library at her old school and stays in touch with her co-teachers there.

We are always told don’t just teach kids to read, but model what it looks like and sounds like to be a truly joyful reader. Readers live their lives beyond the four walls of their classroom, and our Impact Library has helped us create joyful readers who have access to books any time they’d like,” says Anna.

Read more stories of Impact Library recipients increasing book access in their communities, or learn how easy it is to start a Little Free Library book-sharing box in your neighborhood!

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