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.
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Killarnock, Virginia launched their Community Literacy Project in 2013. The original goal was to put up four Little Free Library book-sharing boxes in nearby counties, but they decided to expand the project when they saw how many readers (especially young ones!) were gaining access to books because of the Little Libraries. They even maintain a Facebook page!
Susan May has been heavily involved in the project, and acts as the steward for the 11 Libraries that the St. Andrews team has established so far. As an experienced volunteer steward, we contacted Susan to learn more!
Where are your Libraries located?
“We live on a peninsula where farming and fishing employ many of our residents. We are also a popular area for retirees—lots of water! We installed our Libraries at a few elementary schools, YMCAs, and post offices, as well as at a community playground, town hall, and waste collection site (where people drop off trash and recycling).”
How many books do your Libraries go through?
“I would love to know! Our Libraries are spread throughout two large counties, and each one has a local steward, in addition to myself. I do know that we gave out over 200 books at our community playground Library during spring break last year.
“The books that move the fastest are definitely kids books; week after week, kids books fly out of our Libraries. Adults seem to like thrillers, but they read and donate a wide variety of books.”
What surprised you the most about stewardship?
“Keeping the Libraries in good repair and freshly painted is a big task. We’ve learned to have one unassigned Library on hand so that we can just swap Libraries while repairs are being made. I firmly believe the project would lose its outreach power if the Libraries began to look old and tired.”
What was your biggest challenge?
“We are blessed with lots of wonderful donations of books for children; however, older books do not always reflect the diversity in our community. We are committed to children seeing themselves represented when they visit our Little Free Libraries. We’ve gone from just book-sharing boxes to a more focused literacy project. I did not anticipate writing grant proposals when we began our project, but we’re learning!”
If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking of starting a Library, what would it be?
”Relax! It took each of our Libraries about six months to develop a following. The community may use the Little Free Library very differently than you anticipated and that is okay.”