In 2019, Bob Wanzel, his wife Barb, and their Bible study group helped build a pocket park in their College Hill neighborhood in North St. Louis, Missouri. Then they added Little Free Library #84421 to the park, with a focus on sharing children’s books.

Our Little Free Library has been in operation one year and we have distributed hundreds of children’s books to the neighborhood. We suffered through a few weeks of repairing a vandalized door, but good has won out!” says Bob. We asked Bob to share his advice on maintaining a little library in an underserved neighborhood in this steward spotlight blog post.

What type of vandalism did you experience and how did you resolve it?

“Our Bible study group has worked the College Hill Neighborhood for years. My wife, Barb, suggested I build a library to place in this park. So, with the help of my friend, Harry, we constructed a library. 

“The first month of service was vandalism prone. We discovered the door was ripped off its hinges and the plastic window broken out at least three times. I followed the Little Free Library organization’s vandalism recommendations and repaired the door immediately after discovering there was a problem. The final time I was able to repair the door on site while resupplying books. I think persistence was the key! We haven’t had a problem since last August.”

What type of books are most popular in your library?

“Our library focuses on children’s books. The most popular are new reader books for kindergarten through about third grade. We try to keep a supply of books from kindergarten through early teens.”

How do you keep your library stocked with books?

“We work with several churches and nonprofits that know about the needs of the College Hill Neighborhood. Barb also discovered that our county’s annual used book sale allows nonprofits to attend the final hour and load up as many books as they can for no cost!

“We alternate with another couple in visiting the library to restock. We have been adding 15 to 20 books every 10 days or so for about a year! Most of the books taken out of the library are not returned. We planned for that since the beginning. The library is right by a bus stop, so I think that means we have several regular visitors.”

Do you have any advice for someone thinking of starting a little library?

“My advice is GET INVOLVED! Many people have books after raising kids and they are just setting in boxes in garages and basements waiting to be used. The need for reading assistance in underserved neighborhoods is high.”

Learn more about the neighborhood of College Hill and the project to build the pocket park in the video below, created by Bob Wanzel.

You can help us place Little Free Library book-sharing boxes in underserved neighborhoods like this one! Support our Impact Library Program. Got books to share? Find a Little Free Library in your neighborhood using our world map.

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