When Loida Casares heard a story about the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, placing book-sharing boxes in laundromats, she thought it was a genius idea. “I already had a Little Free Library of my own, outside my house, so I was already a library steward and supporter of the cause,” says Loida. “I searched to see if we had anything like that in Houston and we didn’t.” Thus Loida’s project, Little Libraries in Laundromats, was born!

In this steward spotlight blog post, Loida shares the challenges and surprises she’s encountered since starting Little Free Library book boxes in four laundromats in Houston.

What type of books are most popular and how do you keep them stocked?

“I stock them with children’s picture books and young adult novels. I make my rounds every two weeks and refill most of them. I get the books from the community, from friends who donate books, and I just had a private school donate a bookshelf and three boxes of old books they were getting rid of.”

What has been your biggest challenge as a steward?

“I had one laundromat that had me leave a box instead of a bookcase and someone stole the whole box. It was really sad because my friend had volunteered her time to paint it and decorate it. I found a new laundromat and I left a milk crate of books, decorated by the same friend, and someone stole that one, too. I replaced it with a bookcase and that seems to be working better.”

What has surprised you the most since you started these little libraries?

“How each laundromat has taken on its own personality. The community sometimes gets involved and donates books too. There’s the library where nobody takes the books home and then there’s the one that I have to refill half the books each time!”

Loida’s project has been picking up steam and getting some notice in the press, including a feature in the community newspaper The Leader. “School is sometimes the only place these kids see books,” she says in the article. “If parents are busy working, they are not (able to) take kids to the library….When I see a mother with a child on her lap reading, it’s so gratifying.”

Want to bring a Little Free Library to a laundromat in your area? Or maybe place one in your front yard or a public park? Learn how you can get involved and spread the joy of reading in your community!

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