On a sunny day at the end of May, more than sixty students, city staff and administrators met in Flamingo Park in Sunrise, Florida. They gathered there for the Grand Opening Celebration of five new Little Free Library book-sharing boxes around the city. The group enjoyed snacks and reading activities, and each student went home with a book of their choosing. “I can honestly say everyone had a ball!” says Sady Diaz, the Public Engagement Manager for the City of Sunrise.
This latest celebration was an expansion of a 2013 project by students participating in the Sunrise Leadership Academy (SLA). SLA is a hands-on leadership academy from the City of Sunrise, with the goal of fostering a new generation of informed, civic-minded leaders.
“This started when the organization over the public library system decided to close a public library in east Sunrise. Every year, the SLA class identifies a need within the community through a service learning project, and the SLA class of 2013 decided to create a Little Free Library book exchange network. They repurposed old newspaper boxes and stocked them with appropriate, multilingual books that reflect the demographics of our community. That included books in English, Haitian Creole, French, and Spanish,” says Diaz. “The SLA Class of 2019 proudly remixed the service learning project by expanding the City’s Little Free Library network—refurbishing five additional Little Libraries and a mobile one for special events.”
In both 2013 and 2019, the students involved an impressive array of community stakeholders in the project. From an NSU book arts professor to a local artist and muralist, from elementary schools to community service organizations to various departments in the City of Sunrise, this was truly a community-supported endeavor.
“We are very proud of the Little Free Libraries and how they cater to all of the readers, residents, and visitors in our community,” says Diaz.
Sunrise isn’t the only place where students are building networks of Little Libraries! In Albuquerque, New Mexico, students are sharing STEM Kits in Libraries, and in New Rochelle, New York, they’ve commissioned artists to design Little Libraries in public parks!