Tashay Green runs a Chicago-based book-sharing program called “Books on the L,” so named for Chicago’s public transit system, the “L.” When the city issued a shelter-in-place order in early 2020, Tashay had to put a hold on things, but she kept looking for a way to share books in the midst of a pandemic.

“I was inspired by Sarah Kamya of the Little Free Diverse Libraries Project to start a Little Free Library! I decided to put the Little Free Library in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Englewood where I was raised and much of my family still lives. Englewood is a historically divested, Black community and is what some might refer to as a ‘book desert,'” says Tashay.

We asked Tashay to share her experience and advice for other people interested in starting a Little Free Library book-sharing box. Tashay’s library is charter #92489 in Chicago, Illinois—find it on the Little Free Library world map or follow the library’s journey on the Books on the L Instagram account!

What type of books are most popular in your library?

“Children’s picture and board books are a huge hit! Middle grade and young adult books are also popular in the library.”

How do you keep your library stocked?

“I have an Amazon Wishlist shared on the ‘Books On the L’ Instagram account, which donors have graciously purchased books from. I’ve also received donations from local independent bookstores.”

What has been your biggest challenge as a steward?

“The library has been well received with immense support from the community. If any, our biggest challenge has been the weather. We’ve had some major storms and lots of rain that have caused concern.”

What has surprised you the most since you started a Little Free Library?

“I’ve been most surprised by the level of excitement and buy-in from my family, friends, and book community. I simply hoped that the residents of Englewood would embrace the library and adopt it as theirs—but my family has been urging me to put up even more libraries and spread the love with other neighborhoods. The first week the library was installed, friends of the Books On the L Instagram page donated over 50 books!”

Do you have any advice for other stewards?

“Relationship-building is the most important key to having a successful library! Meet members of the community, explain the goal of the library and express that it belongs to everyone! Creating a collective onus goes a long way. Form a small team of advocates that will help maintain the library. You’ll need assistance replenishing the library, keeping it tidy, and repairing it due to wear and tear.”

Read more in the Steward Spotlight series!

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