Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sharing the Love with Little Free Libraries

Thanks to Karen Lucas from the Madison Public Library for this awesome guest post!

For two summers Madison Public Libraries have allowed our summer reading participants to "share the love" of reading by adding the stickers they earn for summer reading (along with a regular prize they keep) to a Little Free Libraries poster.  For every 8,000 books/hours read by kids, we promised to place a Little Free Library in a local neighborhood in which the families have lower access to public libraries.  Then we stocked the Little Free Libraries with donated books.  
Kids create a little free library at a Madison Public Library workshop (photo from MPL)
This year our local YMCA is encouraging their kids (with their adult mentor) to do book drives or donate old books they no longer need to the Little Free Libraries earned through summer reading.  And this year we had a Maker program at the library where people came and made Little Free Libraries.  Six were made and three of those were donated to the summer reading Little Free Libraries project.  That means we only need to secure funding for installation and registration for each of the LFLs.   

My initial desire was to get the Little Free Libraries into neighborhoods where there is shelter for homeless families since access to books is very difficult for these families.  They are so transient they can't really risk checking books out of a regular library because they are likely to lose them.  They need to not have to worry about losing books, while still having access to them.  And at such a difficult time in their lives, a little reading escape can provide a welcome relief from their daily stresses, as well as providing something for them to do together as a family.  That goal has now expanded to include neighborhoods where families face barriers getting to their closest branch library.

The first Little Free Library went outside a community center, and all the kids and adults involved loved painting it, seeing it go up, and selecting the books for stocking it initially.  They were very excited to get the Little Free Library.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep track of the Little Free Library and make sure it remained stocked.  This year, however, we are partnering with a school and the school librarian has volunteered to contact us when more books are needed.  Check out the photos of our first Little Free Library installation. 

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