This post is part of Little Free Library’s Steward Spotlight series! This series delves into the diversity of steward experience and uncovers the challenges, surprises, and best practices of Little Free Library volunteer stewards around the world.
Raissa Martin has helped to establish 51 Little Free Library book-sharing boxes (called Livres Livros) in Brazil. Many of them are registered and on Little Free Library’s world map. She estimates that more than 50,000 books have been shared in this network of book exchanges, and her project has been the subject of hundreds of media stories. Pretty impressive, right? We reached out to Raissa to learn how she created such a large network, and to see if she had any advice for other people who want to follow in her footsteps.
How did Livres Livros start?
“I first saw a Little Free Library in Santa Barbara, CA. When I returned to Brazil, I asked the Little Free Library nonprofit to use the mini-library idea in a project I was developing to promote reading. With our own resources, we installed three mini-libraries. We took action to promote reading by calling volunteers, individuals and companies and asking them to help us promote and grow this movement in our city.”
What was your first big achievement?
“When we were able to bring Livres Livros to Espírito Santo, another state of Brazil. Then we got government support and set up a ‘literary grove’ in the largest public park in our city in 2017. The ‘literary grove’ featured book benches, giant origami, a stage for storytelling and workshops, and six livres livros. During 2017, we shared more than 10,000 books in those livres libros so that the low-income population could have access to quality books.”
Any other achievements that you’re particularly proud of?
“I am proud to have made it easier for thousands of people to access books. And I’m especially proud of inspiring hundreds of others to start their own book-sharing boxes. Just as Todd Bol inspired us through his idea of Little Free Libraries, and he encouraged us to spread the movement here in Bahia, Brazil, we now encourage others to spread the joy of reading.”
How do you keep all of your Libraries stocked with books?
“We have an annual campaign where for one week, we solicit book donations from private schools, universities, companies, and organizations. We have been doing this for three years now and we receive an average of 300 books each time that can be cleaned, stamped and distributed to the dozens of Livres Livros in the area. Also, many people in our city now know that we are a serious project that puts book donations to good use, and we get more book donations because of that, too.”
Do you have any advice for others who wish to build a network of Little Free Libraries in their cities?
“You must believe that it is possible! Get people to believe in your project and persist, because if it can be done in a city like ours, with high rates of poverty and so many social problems, it can be done anywhere. We started 51 Livres Livros and none of them have suffered from vandalism. We believe anyone can start a project like ours in any part of the world!”