Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement

Little Free Library’s late founder, Todd H. Bol, believed strongly in the power of individuals (and especially Little Free Library stewards) to change the world through acts of kindness.

We hear stories every day of outstanding stewards who repair others’ little libraries; who have created networks of book-sharing boxes; or who work tirelessly to strengthen the sense of community in their area.

Winners of the 2024 Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement

Evelyn Gayhart | Everett, Massachusetts

Seventeen-year-old Evelyn Gayhart first had dreams of starting a Little Free Library book-sharing box when she was twelve. She immediately started planning, getting city approvals, fundraising, gathering book donations and designing and building a little library with her grandfather. Despite delays due to covid, her inaugural library opened on housing authority property across from Whener Park in 2021. She has since established four additional libraries and has three more planned, thanks to a Little Free Library Partner Expansion grant.

“I originally started it as a project for the Girl Scouts Silver Award but ended up wanting to expand beyond just one,” Evelyn said. “The response I’ve been getting has made me really happy. I get to make sure more people have the opportunity to get and read books. It’s been an extremely rewarding experience.”

Kaitlyn Mahoney | Salt Lake City, Utah

As owner of Under the Umbrella, an LGBTQ+ bookstore in Salt Lake City, Kaitlyn Mahoney serves the queer community and celebrates their stories. In addition to stocking queer books of all genres for all ages, Kaitlyn hosts a Little Free Library book-sharing box at the store in an effort to support lower-income patrons who do not have the funds to purchase books. 

“We are currently in an area with a high concentration of unsheltered individuals, many of whom frequent our Little Free Library,” said Kaitlyn. “It has become a welcoming service providing books to those who wouldn’t otherwise shop in our store. Several individuals also regularly come into the store and purchase new books specifically to donate to the library for others to enjoy.”

This is the kind of mutual aid Kaitlyn envisioned when they opened Under the Umbrella, the only bookstore in the area that caters to the queer community.

“Despite growing up in one of America’s queerest cities, I myself didn’t have access to queer history and community,” Kaitlyn said. “Finding stories that featured people like me—and people unlike me but also queer—was transformative. It made me feel powerful and seen. Being able to provide a free resource for folks to find those stories for themselves is an honor.”

Ellen Selig | Norfolk, Virginia

As past president and board member of the Friends of the Norfolk Public Library, Ellen Selig is a longtime supporter of book access. When attending a Norfolk Public Library event in 2017, Ellen watched a fifth-grade boy reluctantly return a book to the shelf after voraciously reading the first several chapters. When Ellen asked the librarian why he didn’t check out the book, she learned that overdue fines were the issue. With that, Ellen paid what was owed and began her journey to bring Little Free Libraries to the Norfolk community in an effort to make books more freely accessible. 

Ellen has been instrumental in establishing 130 Little Free Library book-sharing boxes in the Norfolk area. Her personal Little Free Library is charter #43060. 

“Creating and supporting the Norfolk Little Free Library Project of the Friends of Norfolk Public Library has been the most meaningful project I have ever been involved in,” Ellen said. “Little Free Libraries build bonds between neighbors and across communities. These libraries give purpose to books and magazines after an initial reading. Most importantly, they teach sharing—of books, ideas and ourselves—to adults and children alike. They are hope and a hug wrapped in paper. I believe my efforts have impacted thousands and will continue to—an amazing feeling! Being the ‘Little Library Lady’ is pretty special.”

Wendy Shih | Portland, Oregon

Wendy Shih is dedicated to expanding access to diverse books through her Little Free Library, which embraces the inclusive mission of LFL’s Read in Color program. Shih started her library in 2022 because she wanted to share her love of diverse books and amplify vital stories that have been underrepresented. 

“I have been discovering so many amazing diverse and inclusive books for my kids and myself that I wasn’t exposed to growing up,” said Wendy. We read a lot of books that not only reflect our family’s mixed identities, but also books about many others unlike us. I believe that having access to diverse and inclusive books can help expand the worldview of readers and entire communities to create a more compassionate society.”

Not only has Shih’s popular Little Free Library enriched her community, it has also enabled her to create connections far beyond her own neighborhood. “My library has sparked my passion and commitment to increase the volume, circulation and access to diverse books in my community,” Wendy said. ”It has connected me with other amazing Read in Color Little Free Library stewards across the country who are committed to social justice and community building. It has connected me with those who believe in the power of diverse and inclusive books to not only open hearts and minds, but also save lives. Many of them inspire me and together we have created a great support system for one another.” 

Jacques Zuiderwijk | Leidschendam, Netherlands

While Jacques stewards a Little Free Library of his own—built by his son, painted by his daughter, and attracting about ten visitors per day—he looks beyond his own book-sharing box to connect with others as well. Over the last eight years, Jacques has distributed almost 10,000 books through his Little Free Library and mini libraries in other neighborhoods. He tracks his books shared on a special Facebook page. But perhaps most impressive is Jacques’ map of Little Free Libraries in the Netherlands.

“Everywhere I go I look for Little Free Libraries and get in touch with other LFL stewards,” Jacques said, “and I decided to map out all LFL and Kinderzwerfboekstations (childrenstraybookstations) in the Netherlands in my city (90) and [beyond]. I do this with information from dozens of LFL stewards and hundreds of LFL visitors. I now consider it my life’s work. My network has grown enormously. Every day, every evening, I am busy mapping Little Free Libraries.”

Metro United Way and Mary Sullivan | Louisville, Kentucky

For the last ten years, the Metro United Way’s Little Free Library Program has provided increased access to books in the Louisville community through 36 Little Free Library book-sharing boxes. This effort has been supported in large part by Mary Sullivan, who coordinates book donations and distribution and keeps the program humming.

“I have done a lot of volunteering over the years, but I have never stuck with a program for 10 years,” Mary said. “Many of my friends ask, ‘how many hours do you put into this,’ and I say, ‘I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. One more book taken, read and enjoyed is what matters most to me.’” 

“We recently had a ten-year anniversary celebration for our LFLs,” Mary said. “We invited the hosts, the volunteers who deliver the books every two weeks, and the donors that have provided books. It was a wonderful event. To have everyone involved—many since the beginning—all together made my heart burst with pride.” 

“I am so appreciative of Metro United Way for saying ‘let’s explore this Little Free Library program’ in 2014, when I showed them a story about Todd Bol. I could never imagine I would still be involved 10 years later. The Louisville metropolitan community has been incredibly supportive of our Little Free Library Program. I take every advantage to promote the success and our continual need for books. To that end, Metro United Way hasn’t had to spend any money on the purchase of books in 10 years.”

Winners of the 2023 Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement

Valerie Janis | Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota

Valerie Janis is a member of the Bay Mills Anishinaabe community and lives and raises her family with her husband in Pine Ridge Reservation. She has worked at the Oglala Lakota College Woksape Tipi Library for three years as the Outreach Resource Technician. She has initiated and completed projects such as adding language and cultural references in the library space, reorganization and inventorying the library collections, redesigning the library webpage, creating virtual library programs and working with Little Free Library to distribute books through the communities of the Pine Ridge Reservation. She completed her MLIS degree with San Jose State University last spring. She continues to come up with innovative ways to connect to the community and promote literacy.

“I started the Little Free Library because Pine Ridge Reservation does not have access to books and it is important to support literacy in our communities. The Little Free Library has impacted the Reservation and encouraged people to build their own home libraries, [and] we have given over 2,500 books to people. [The libraries] have given me hope when I have seen the reception of the community and the enthusiasm for the new books I add to the boxes.”

John Manuel Newland | Athens, Georgia

John Manuel Newland started doing construction work in his family’s construction business as a summer job and as a way to stay busy. He found that he enjoyed working with his hands and looked for ways that he could use his skills to help the community. The first Little Free Library John built was dedicated to a long-term volunteer of Books For Keeps, and he has since built book-sharing boxes for local schools.

“For me, apart from the satisfaction of building a product that I can be proud of and knowing I am helping my community, it has been interesting to understand that if you want to do something, you might just have to make it happen on your own. I had plenty of help…but there were so many times I could have just said, ‘Well, looks like it’s not going to work out,’ and left it at that. And maybe it was because I had the extra time, and I don’t like to be bored, but I really do enjoy the physical and mental labor of it.”

Dynamite Book Club | Santa Ana, California

Taylor Park, Layla Hahn, Susan Zhang, and Alexandra Law started the Dynamite Book Club as a community service project to help support the communities in Santa Ana, who didn’t have access to libraries due to the COVID-19 closures.

“We had no idea how challenging it was at first, and then realized how it brought us together as well. We enjoyed the physical work of building, sanding, and painting these boxes and felt amazing to present them to places that needed some extra joy.”

The group says starting the club and building the libraries helped them realize that books bring the community together, as it provides a great platform to support all communities who seek literacy resources. Since the project began, the Santa Ana Zoo has grown their education program through literacy and the arts, as all of the boxes are hand-painted by the Dynamite Book Club.

Tiffany Lester | Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Tiffany Lester of Regina Kindness Rocks started a Little Free Library so that children within the surrounding vulnerable community would have access to books and materials they need to succeed. Tiffany says the library has been a popular spot for children’s books and novels and that the library’s outreach has expanded to include items that may be needed within the community to supplement the rising cost of living. With the addition of toys, non-perishable foods, clean clothing, diapers, and other supplies, this library has become an integral part of the community structure and support system.

Tiffany says the Little Free Library book-sharing box has impacted her in many ways, but her favorite aspect is the community connections she’s been able to create. She’s met many neighbors who have either benefited from the resources the library provides or have become part of the impact by sharing their own donations.

“I am an adopted female who also happens to be mentally disabled, so my connection to my own identity and community have been strained from the start. Establishing Little Free Libraries as all-access resource hubs has given me the chance to connect with my neighbors on a level that allows for the development of my personal relationships and an ever-expanding connection to community and identity. Being a Little Free Library steward helps me reaffirm my worth as a person and change-maker within a sometimes cold and stagnant world.”

Mai Le | Daly City, California

Mai Le started a gift economy group in 2019 as a way to connect people to their neighbors, while also helping to fulfill needs and reduce environmental impact. The Little Free Library—the first chartered Little Free Library in the city—is an extension of that effort, offering a consistent place to offer and find resources. I truly believe we all have something to give, and all have a need that can be fulfilled by others. Daly City is very diverse, with more than half of residents being immigrants. For some in the community, the Little Free Library was their first exposure to a book-sharing box, and they’ve expressed how wonderful it is to see something like this. 

Mai Le says given that her city is about 60 percent Asian and 20 percent Hispanic, she takes the commitment to being a Read in Color library seriously. 

“I always have books by BIPOC authors for kids and adults in the library. It is hard to know the impact of this in our community, but I believe everyone deserves to see themselves in a book, and that we will read more when we do.

Mai Lee says she’s always recognized the power books have to connect neighbors. “I have always known that books connect people, but being a steward has shown me more facets of that, and made it real in my day-to-day life. Through being a steward I am slowly shaping the community I want to live and raise children in, and that is so rewarding to me.”

San Diego County Library | San Diego, California

In March 2021, San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to install Little Free Libraries (LFLs) across San Diego County to boost literacy in low-income and communities of color.  With the pandemic further exacerbating the lack of access to education and reading, LFLs provide an invaluable chance for children not to lose their reading skills and to continue to learn during periods of isolation. To date, 43 LFLs have been installed with an estimated amount of over 20,000 books distributed to San Diego County communities as part of this effort, which provides 24/7 access to diverse and inclusive books. The first LFL was installed in September 2021 and SDCL plans on installing 57 more LFLs for a total of 100 Little Free Libraries offering access to books throughout the county.

The project has three main objectives: nurturing literacy in San Diego County, exposing community members – especially students and children – to diverse and culturally inclusive literature, and fostering relationships among families.

“Serving as the LFL Program Manager for San Diego County Library from the inception of the LFL Initiative in 2021 to 2023 has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my 21 years with the County.  We have been honored with the 2022 NaCo National Association of Counties Award 2022 and the San Ysidro School District, Distinguished Champion Award, 2022.  As a former elementary school teacher, literacy is in my blood, so knowing that I actively contributed to the installations of numerous LFLs throughout San Diego County has given me a sense of accomplishment and legacy that no one can take away.  What I treasure the most are the partnerships and relationships that have grown from this one little initiative.  I have witnessed and I know that one book, one person, one little free library, and one community can make a whole lot of change…and that’s what little free libraries do every time one gets planted.”  -Laura Zuckerman, Librarian II, Former LFL Program Manager 2021-2023

Winners of the 2022 Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement

Storytime Crafts, Lisa Vergara, Needham, Massachusetts

Storytime Crafts is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization created to promote two of our favorite things: literacy and kindness. The nonprofit is dedicated to providing underserved communities with resources that can help bridge the literacy gap. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, forcing schools to close, Storytime Crafts pivoted to installing Little Free Library book-sharing boxes.

“Our goal is to increase access to culturally diverse books for readers of all ages and backgrounds and foster neighborhood book exchanges throughout communities where children and families do not have access to books,” said founder Lisa Vergara.

Storytime Crafts matches a sponsor with each Little Free Library placed in a community to promote the joy of reading. One of their Little Free Libraries was granted through our Impact Library Program and installed at Brookview House, a multi-service organization for women, children, and youth experiencing homelessness. Other locations include Dimock Community Health Center, Roxbury; Thomas M. Menino YMCA, Hyde Park; and Joseph P. Tynan Elementary School, South Boston.

Dionna Roberts and Kellen Deau, Kalamazoo, Michigan

In March of 2020, Dionna and Kellen had an idea to plant Little Free Libraries in areas of Kalamazoo considered book deserts. This project was launched as a means of addressing inequities in book access, which became even more pronounced during school shutdowns caused by the pandemic. Together they installed more than 30 new Little Free Libraries throughout Kalamazoo and became part of LFL’s Read in Color program.

“Previous to our project, Little Free Libraries could be found in wealthier Kalamazoo neighborhoods. The goal of our project was to plant Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods that have less access to literacy and where these small libraries are uncommon,” says Kellen.

“The feeling associated with being a Little Free Library steward in my neighborhood is priceless,” said Dionna. “Providing free book access to families is fun and impactful. I am honored and grateful to be a part of the Little Free Library community of change agents who take great pride in making our worlds brighter and better with books!”

Evgenia Pirog, Kyiv, Ukraine

Evgenia Pirog is a writer and literacy advocate who first brought Little Free Libraries to Ukraine ten years ago. Her goal was to increase the availability of books and encourage children to read. Through her initiative Додай читання (“Add Reading”), she enlisted the help of other writers, artists, teachers, librarians, and parents to grow the Little Free Library movement in Ukraine. They have since created 182 book-sharing boxes in 27 cities across the country.

“Our small libraries have become big magnets—they have attracted books, reading projects, and meetings with writers,” Evgenia said. “The library movement has given me many friends and like-minded people across the country and beyond. This, as well as joining the lively reading of hundreds of children, made me happier. My experience has shown that books are truly a magical tool. And the joint work of adults and children strengthens understanding and friendship between them. This is more important today than ever. Together we are strong.”

Asher and Zane Kohn, Scarsdale, New York

After their local public library installed five Little Free Libraries around town, Asher and Zane Kohn started the “Diverse Books Teach Tolerance” project. The brothers use Little Free Libraries to distribute free books by diverse authors or about the experiences of diverse groups. Every month, they share a new selection of books for child, teen, and adult readers. Each diverse book has a sticker, QR code, and a bookmark that explains the Diverse Books Teach Tolerance program. Asher and Zane are Little Free Library stewards themselves and have even started an Action Book Club.

“Volunteering as stewards and running the Diverse Books Teach Tolerance program make us feel a part of something that is bigger than ourselves,” said Asher and Zane. “We think that Little Free Libraries are a great way for teens to get involved in their communities and we hope our experience will inspire other teens around the country to start diverse books projects in their hometowns.”

Kristine Dowhan, St. Petersburg, Florida

Kristine Dowhan started a Little Free Library made from a telephone booth at her home when the pandemic closed public libraries in her St. Petersburg community. But she didn’t stop there. Kristine has also placed 236 Little Free Libraries made from upcycled Tampa Bay Times newsstands!

Stewarding these newsstands-turned-libraries is a group effort. Kristine has built up an impressive network of more than 260 local volunteers in St. Petersburg. Through this network, more than 200,000 books have been freely shared throughout the Tampa Bay community.

“My project was my pandemic lifeline, and there were points where it was the only thing holding me together and keeping me sane,” said Kristine. “So many of my stewards feel the same about their libraries. I’ve made so many new friends and acquaintances through the project, and the opportunities to grow as an individual and as a leader have been endless.”

Alejandro De La Peña, Jr., El Paso, Texas

When teacher Alejandro De La Peña realized only about 1 in 10 schools in his area of El Paso had a Little Free Library, he decided to take action. He established a Little Free Library at Parkland Pre-Engineering Middle School. 

“I feel an obligation to the community to keep spreading the will to take action on issues that need to be addressed,” said Alejandro. “This LFL shows that even though I don’t see when the books are taken or by whom, it is still making an impact on any member of our community. I feel like an anonymous ‘book fairy’—hardly anyone knows that I exist and I magically bring them brand new, free books that are worth so much more than a ‘quarter under their pillow’. It’s an awesome feeling. 

“I even created a Classroom Job for my special education students called ‘Little Free Library Liaison’. I help them stamp the books and we go restock it weekly as part of developing their life skills for possibly a future employment skill.”

Winners of the 2021 Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement

Sarah Kamya, Arlington, Massachusetts

Sarah Kamya is on a mission to bring diverse books to her community and beyond. She started with one Little Free Library dedicated to sharing books that amplify and empower BIPOC voices. She now has eight more diverse libraries, with plans to expand further. In addition, Sarah has shipped hundreds of diverse books to Little Free Libraries in all 50 states to spread the message that recognizing and celebrating our differences can bring us closer together.

“My Little Free Library has had an impact on me personally, because I have seen firsthand the power of books and how they can transform one’s belief about themselves,” says Sarah. “When I started my Little Free Library, I wanted little Black and Brown girls to be able to pick up a book and see someone who looked like them, who shared similar stories as them, who was able to overcome obstacles like them, and who could just be Black and amazing. I believe my Little Free Library acts as a beacon of hope and promise to myself and future generations of BIPOC youth, that we do indeed matter.”

Seraphin Niyonsenga, Kigali, Rwanda

Seraphin Niyonsenga was living in Davis, California, in 2016 as a Fulbright Exchange Fellow. On his morning runs, he passed by Little Free Library book boxes, which always caught his attention. He realized that the Little Free Library model could be an answer to bridging the literacy gap in his home country of Rwanda, where the cost of establishing and maintaining a conventional library is prohibitively high.

“By bringing kids and adults from all backgrounds together around a book, the Little Free Library is a tool to build the community,” says Seraphin. “By borrowing, returning and caring for books, we instill in children good values to respect public goods and care for the community. We have noticed that children from poor families are the ones most interested in picking and reading books. Seeing kids flock to my LFL has been something fulfilling to me…. I feel happy to see that this LFL has helped me to give back to my community.”

Russell Schnell, Boulder, Colorado

Dr. Russell Schnell established the first Little Free Library in Antarctica. Because of this, there are now little libraries on every continent. Schnell—an atmospheric scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change—built the Little Free Library at his home in Boulder, Colorado, then shipped it to the South Pole, where he had previously worked. The Little Free Library is located inside NOAA’s Atmospheric Research Observatory.

The South Pole Little Free Library is Schnell’s 37th installation. He built his first library in 2013 for his daughter’s home in St. Louis followed by another for his own home. Since then he has created libraries for locations like Mount Fuji, Japan; an Aboriginal area in Warrnambool, Australia; and a First Peoples Cree reserve in Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada. Schnell prides himself on using recycled materials whenever he can. Schnell’s passion for Little Free Libraries was inspired by a lack of book access when he was growing up. “I did not have books as a child and still know the feeling,” he says.

Dan and Trina Wiswell, Tacoma, Washington

Not only are Dan and Trina Wiswell Little Free Library stewards, they are Little Free Library superfans. Dan and Trina have visited nearly 2,000 Little Free Libraries and “book bombed” them with more than 11,000 books.

Dan and Trina have visited libraries in eight states—Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, and Florida—as well as Vancouver Island in Canada. They have also been an inspiration to other Little Free Library stewards and patrons who want to visit libraries and share books. Many people keep books in the trunks of their cars so they always have a book handy to share, thanks to Dan and Trina’s example.

“Visiting libraries has allowed us to see all the creativity of people’s libraries. Additionally, we have met many stewards, and some have become good friends,” says Dan. “Our library and book bombing allows us to share time doing something we enjoy while, hopefully, benefiting other stewards and their patrons.”

Katie Stuart, Poulsbo, Washington

High school senior Katie Stuart shares her love of reading through her popular Little Free Library, which is dedicated entirely to children’s books.

“As a child, and even now, I always loved finding new books to read wherever I could, and a children’s Little Free Library near me would have meant so much,” Katie says. “I have seen so many kids come back week after week, because they discovered a love of reading at my Little Free Library.”

Since Katie established the library six years ago, it has inspired her to do more for her community. She adapted almost 50 books for online use to make them more accessible for children with disabilities. She created digital book recordings for kids during the pandemic. And she is the first student representative in her local government’s Community Service Committee.

Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati, Michelle Otten Guenther, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati has distributed nearly 75,000 books since they launched their Little Free Library journey, which started after a fortuitous meeting with LFL founder Todd Bol in 2017. Since then, they’ve installed 99 libraries, 14 more are pending installation, and 37 more are available for new stewards to claim.

“Many of the children and adults that we have the privilege to serve live in economically-disadvantaged communities, so we wanted to focus on bringing LFLs to these neighborhoods,” says Michelle. “Our stewards range in age from the octogenarian grandmother that looks out for everyone on her block to the 11-year old who single-handedly coordinated a holiday neighborhood gathering at his LFL. Books have always had the unique ability to connect us, encourage collaboration and enable us to see different points of view. Now, more than ever, we need to celebrate our individual differences and our common humanity and LFLs are the perfect conduit.”

Winners of the 2020 Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement

Heather Butts, Beechurst, New York

Heather Butts has launched more than 40 Little Free Library book exchanges in New York and New Jersey, working with her nonprofit organization HEALTH for Youths, public schools, the New York Police Department, and others. She has been a vital part of bringing little libraries and a sense of togetherness to the area.

“Little Free Libraries have been transformative for the neighborhoods mainly because the community members are working with their communities to make them something special and a living, breathing part of their neighborhoods,” Butts said. “We are pleased that we have turned several of our Little Free Libraries into pantries during COVID-19 to help people deal with getting the food they need to feed themselves and their families.”

Hindi’s Libraries, Cedarhurst, New York

Hindi’s Libraries has a touching origin story. When Hindi Krinsky, a teacher and mother of five, died suddenly at the age of 32, her friend Leslie Gang and Hindi’s husband Dovid Kanarfogel established three schoolyard Little Free Libraries in her honor. Then something unexpected happened: Members of the community donated hundreds of books. When the books kept coming, Leslie and Dovid established Hindi’s Libraries, a nonprofit organization that has provided more than 90,000 books to organizations across the United States, Israel, Africa and India. Hindi’s Libraries has also provided books to Little Free Library stewards who need them most. 

“Becoming an LFL steward, partnering with Little Free Library, and forming relationships with LFL stewards all over the country has been one of the best parts of our growth,” Gang says. “We meet incredible people who are kind, generous and passionate about literacy—just as Hindi was.”

Kiara Bose Roy, Mumbai, India

Kiara Bose Roy started the first Little Free Library book-sharing box in Mumbai when she was just 12 years old as a way to share her love of reading and provide equitable book access.

“I live in the metropolitan city of Mumbai in India, where a lot of us are lucky enough to have access to an abundance of books and libraries. But a lot of children who live in my city don’t share that privilege,” Roy said. “I’m now almost 18, but I had always been very sensitive to the socioeconomic disparity that I saw in my community. It thought it unfair that those children who play on the same street as me couldn’t enjoy the lovely books I could. This was most definitely my biggest motivation in starting a Little Free Library.”

Roy continues to see her little library provide a valuable service in her city and has inspired more libraries to spring up.

Nancy Wulkan, Chicago, Illinois

Nancy Wulkan installed her first two Little Free Libraries in Chicago parks in 2018 and immediately saw the impact on families, neighbors, the local homeless population and others. Since then, Nancy has founded the Neighbor Literacy Project and donated twelve more library boxes to her city.

“I’ve loved the opportunity to share the power of books and reading to positively impact neighborhoods in Chicago,” Wulkan said. “Establishing a Little Free Library in a neighborhood, especially one that has limited book resources, makes a statement that someone cares, the community is trusted, the community is valued.

“Being a library steward has allowed me to meet people from all walks of life who experience books and reading from such diverse backgrounds and perspectives,” she continued. “Seeing the unexpected joy on a LFL visitor’s face when they find this box of free books in their community reminds me that big trees grow from little seeds.”

Kristine Humphries, Ojai, California

Kristine Humphries of Ojai, California, has helped establish dozens of little libraries around the Ojai Valley, thanks to a grant from the Ojai Women’s Fund. Kristine worked in collaboration with the public library’s Ojai Valley Library Friends & Foundation and partnered with the school district, houses of worship, business owners and service organizations like the Humane Society to help the libraries thrive.

Humphries said the little libraries have greatly expanded book access in her community: “Many of our residents have limitations and unmet needs that affect their ability and willingness to use a traditional library system; this can include immigration status and language challenges, disabilities, and erratic employment hours. The Little Free Libraries are all open 24/7, 365.”

Walter Mulbry, Takoma Park, Maryland

Walter Mulbry is a master builder, constructing 23 Little Free Library book-sharing boxes for his community. A member of Friends of the Takoma Park Maryland Library, he worked with his colleagues to purchase their first Little Free Library in 2014 then expanded the program with the libraries he built. A local mini-grant helps supply building materials; local artists paint the libraries; and the Friends book sale helps keep them stocked with reading material.

“Little libraries contribute toward our town’s sense of community. We are a very diverse community, but the love of reading is commonly shared,” Mulbry said. “Although our little libraries are located throughout the city, our focus is on locating them in public spaces near bus stops and large apartment buildings.”

Winners of the 2019 Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement

Giovanna Iorio, Rome, Italy

Giovanna Iorio established the first Little Free Library book exchange in Italy in 2012. Since then, she has inspired hundreds of Italians to establish Little Libraries by advising and supporting them. “I am always available, and I really love the fact that we are a community and all around Italy—we have hundreds of LFLs with different stories,” says Giovanna.

Rosalinda Sandoval Keeler, El Monte, California

Rosalinda Sandoval Keeler and the El Monte Coalition of Latino Professionals started Little Free Libraries to improve literacy opportunities for socioeconomically vulnerable kids. “Children as well as parents have expressed that books have now become part of their daily routine,” says Rosalinda. The Little Libraries have given Rosalinda an opportunity to partner with local public libraries, police officers, carpenters, and more. “It is neighbors helping neighbors at its finest,” she says.

“In this area there are many children who are socioeconomically vulnerable and live too far from the public library or simply do not have access to books after school hours. We wanted to help improve literacy opportunities and help level the playing field for our students.”

Malaz Khojali, Khartoum, Sudan

Malaz Khojali launched a Little Free Library network in Sudan in an effort to get books into the hands of local children, who do not have access to books through a public library or school library. “This gives me a new path to help my society, especially the coming generation,” she says.

Lisa Lopez-Williamson, El Paso, Texas

Herrera Elementary School librarian Lisa Lopez-Williamson brought Little Free Libraries to her borderland community of El Paso in 2010 to combat the title of “Least Literate City in the Nation.” Her first Little Free Library was charter #7—there are now charter numbers greater than #80,000! “[This has] opened my eyes to the good nature of people, locally, nationally, and internationally. The spirit of generosity has been awakened in all of us working with Little Free Libraries,” she says.

Mary Lindsey, Lake Worth, Florida

Mary Lindsey, president of the Lake Worth Little Free Libraries project, she has helped champion more than 100 Little Free Library book-sharing boxes in her area. She shares this award with the entire Lake Worth Little Free Libraries team. More than 350,000 books for children, tweens, teens, and grown-ups have passed from neighbor to neighbor in Lake Worth. “Little Free Libraries offered a way up and out of the downward spiral in which too many of our most vulnerable neighbors were trapped,” Mary says.

Evan Peterson, Spring Valley, Wisconsin

Evan Peterson started his Little Free Library, “Evan’s Port #1” four years ago, after visiting LFL headquarters to research a fourth-grade school project and has been an ambassador for Little Free Library’s mission of literacy and community ever since. Burdened with health issues from a young age, Evan used his Little Library to serve his community and connect with others, both at home and afar. When he was hospitalized for chemotherapy treatments last summer, he felt the generosity of the LFL community firsthand. “Out of the blue, cards, letters and packages from coast to coast started being delivered to my hospital room and my home. All their well wishes really meant to world to me and still do,” he says.

Chuck Prihoda, Medford, Wisconsin

Chuck Prihoda of the Taylor County Literacy Council is a Little Free Library builder extraordinaire. His Little Libraries have been built from canoes, or made to look like train stations, school buses, treasure chests, and more. “I did not want to build a box for books. I wanted to build something that would leave a positive impression in a child’s mind … I wanted that child to touch, and see, and associate books and reading with a positive feeling,” he says.  

Linda Prout, New Orleans, Louisiana

Linda Prout, a retired teacher, was one of the earliest Little Free Library ambassadors, using Little Free Libraries to build book access and a sense of community in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Since then, Linda has championed more than 200 book-sharing boxes, and she has partnered with everyone from schools to Boy Scouts to the Friends of the New Orleans Public Library, which has donated thousands of books to local Little Libraries. “Ripples from Little Free Libraries continue to spread throughout New Orleans,” she says.

Talena Lachelle Queen, Paterson, New Jersey

Fifth-grade English teacher and poet Talena Lachelle Queen is working to place a Little Free Library in each of her city’s 46 public parks. “I started the ‘Little Free Libraries in the Parks’ project in an attempt to increase literacy in my community and to make reading fun,” she says. “Statistics show that my inner city/urban community averages are significantly low.” Talena wants to change that with the help of her community.

Duane Yazzie, Window Rock, Arizona

Duane Yazzie established the Navajo Nation’s first official Little Free Library as a recipient of LFL’s Impact Library Program. The Little Library is the first in a network serving students and other residents in the area. “It is both empowering and rewarding and reminds me of the great power that lies within each of us and how that power is magnified when people come together in the spirit of goodness.”

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