Making reading a community affair
May 20, 2013
Community bookshelves and "Little Free Libraries" and are popping up in neighborhoods around the country and Truckee-Tahoe is no exception. The idea is to promote literacy and community building through local book exchanges.
The Little Free Library movement started as a solution to encourage free book access in small, rural communities that don't have library access. Little Free Libraries are spreading all over the country — and even as far away as Germany, Ghana and Afghanistan.
The Little Free Libraries are also a form of creative expression for communities, as most are handcrafted and some even resemble decorative dollhouses stocked with books.
While we are blessed with libraries in our region, challenges such as transportation can prevent people — especially low-income children — from easily accessing them. One of the goals of Tahoe Truckee Reads, a local literacy campaign, is to increase the number of books in local homes.
In early childhood, many low-income students aren't exposed to books. National statistics show one book per every 300 children in low-income neighborhoods in contrast to 13 books per one child in middle-income neighborhoods.
In support of local literacy efforts two Truckee Rotary Clubs collaborated and built 12 community bookshelves modeling the Little Free Library concept. Local Rotarians selected the bookshelf construction as this year's project for the national "Rotarians at Work Day," which occurred on April 27.
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Rotarians at Work Day is a dedicated day where around the world, on this day, Rotarians are working to effect change for the good of their communities. Rotary's vision is one of service above self and improving literacy is a specific mission of Rotary.
"This project was perfect as it aligned well with both contributing to the community and enhancing literacy," said Truckee Sunrise Rotary President Eileen Driscoll. "I felt so good doing this — it was a true community collaboration!"
In partnership with Tahoe Truckee Reads the bookshelves are being distributed throughout the region at public facilities and housing complexes so children and their families can access reading material near their homes even if they are not able to get to a library.
The shelves will initially be stocked with used books donated through recent Tahoe Truckee Reads community book drives. The bookshelves are designed after the Little Free Library model where the directions for use are: "Take a Book, Leave a Book, or Do Both!"
Community Bookshelf Locations:
Truckee Community Recreation Center
Tahoe City Rideout Community Center
Truckee Town Hall
TTUSD District Office
Boys & Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe
Sierra View Apartments Community Room (for residents)
Donner Creek Mobile Home Park
Sunset Inn Mobile Home Park
Glenshire HOA Clubhouse
Tahoe Maritime Museum
Truckee Pines Apartments (in process for approval)
Four of the venues (Truckee Pines, Sierra View, Donner Creek Mobile Home Park and Sunset Inn/La Bamba) are also host sites for the summer reading program where teachers go into local neighborhoods and read with kids in efforts to combat the issues around summer learning loss. The bookshelves will provide students, teachers and their families with more reading resources onsite.
Check out a community bookshelf near you and "Take a book, leave a book, or both!"
Laura Abbey Brown is executive director of the Excellence in Education Foundation.