Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement
We’re excited to announce the second annual Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement! We are thrilled to recognize Little Free Library stewards for their dedication to Little Free Library’s mission.
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.
Little Free Library stewards are the backbone of the Little Free Library network, and the network’s breadth and depth would never have grown so quickly without the support and dedication of volunteer stewards worldwide.
We are pleased to recognize six exceptional stewards as the winners of the 2020 Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement. Click on the name of each winner below to get their story.
Winners of the 2020 Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement
Click on the name beneath any image to learn more.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
Click on the name beneath any image to learn more.
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.
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.
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.
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.”