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School's Out, But Books are In: Neighborhood Book Nooks Make it Easy to Grab Some Summer Reading

The city of Coral Springs is placing fun-sized libraries within the community, making books more accessible year-round. The project is inspired by the Little Free Library movement, which started in Wisconsin about 15 years ago.

A Little Free Library box in Coral Springs. (Photo: Brenda Stanemir)

By Brenda Stanemir | MediaLab@FAU

May 30, 2024

Take a book, leave a book.

The Little Free Library has made its way into the heart of Coral Springs, taking on a different approach to the traditional book archive. Within miniature wooden boxes, residents came together to create small libraries that are readily available for everyone in the community.

The concept originated in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009 when a retired business consultant named Todd H. Bol created the first library-sharing box to honor his mother and her love for reading. 

The nonprofit organization is now based in St. Paul, Minnesota, with volunteers helping out in all 50 states. With the set-up of each book-exchange box, Little Free Libraries is actively working toward giving back to the community, inspiring readers and expanding book access. The dollhouse-style boxes of free books continue to pop up around the country as well as around the world.

“I brought this idea to my class in order to build literacy within our community,” said Jessica Parker, a second grade teacher at Riverside Elementary, who placed a Little Free Library in front of her school. 

Her students donated their old books to the library, in hopes of extending their learning to others in the city who are unable to get their own printed works.

The Little Free Libraries are open to everyone in the community, and they supply a variety of books that range from elementary-level to college-level reading.

Many students experience education inequality, as 61% of children in the United States living at or below the poverty line have no books at home, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

A Girl Scout troop set up a Little Free Library for their Bronze Award Project, next to a Title 1 school. Title I provides additional resources to schools with economically disadvantaged students.

Their Little Library is located in Sherwood Forest Park, right next to Ramblewood Elementary, where at least 40% of the population of families struggle to survive and are considered low income. 

The troop purposefully chose this location, as the park was an easy access point for both parents and children to retrieve books.

“I love coming to the park with my mom afterschool, so I can pick out a new book,” said Grayson Amaro, a nine-year-old boy who was walking with his mother, Claudia Amaro. 

He attends Ramblewood Elementary and has become more interested in reading. His choice of reading for this week was “What Buttosaur is That?” and “WhatsHisFace.”

The expansion of Little Free Libraries not only promotes literacy in students, but acts as an alternative resource for the Northwest Regional Library, which is the only public library in the city of Coral Springs.

While the Little Libraries seem limited in size compared to the public library, there are multiple book-exchange boxes spread throughout the community that serve as a complementary resource for its citizens. Also, each one is uniquely decorated to catch the eyes of onlookers.

The Little Free Libraries are flexible with their regulations, as the majority of them are open to the public at all hours. It is up to the owners’ discretion to set up their own rules, but one rule remains consistent with each Little Free Library: there is no obligation to take a book or leave a book. 

It is in the hands of community members to keep these Little Libraries alive, and many have taken control to promote reading within their neighborhoods. The implementation of these book-exchange boxes has led to an average of one book being shared per day, according to the Little Free Library’s website. 

Local residents became inspired by the community outreach efforts and took it upon themselves to implement their own Little Free Libraries in front of their homes. 

“My husband and I created our own unique Little Library with a two story room for adult books and a little room for children’s books,” said Joann Boyer, who worked as a literary coach for Broward County Public Schools. 

She has amassed a collection of books, for children and adults, over the years and is excited to share her library with her neighborhood.

A Little Free Library box offers books to residents of Coral Springs. (Photo by Brenda Stanemir)

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