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    Heard of the little gems called Little Free Libraries? They are popping up all over Kentuckiana and I am just in love with them and the concept! Read on to learn more about the creative idea, the organization leading the way, and ones you can go seek out in and around the Louisville and Southern Indiana areas!

    Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that sets out to encourage people to "take a book, return a book." It encompasses three main ideas: a sense of community, reading and providing books for children, and promoting literacy for adults and children and libraries around the world. It began in 2009 when Tod Bol of Wisconsin built a "little library" to honor his mother. It was in the shape of a one room schoolhouse and he set it in his front yard, filled it with books, and his neighbors and friends loved it. Since then, Little Free Library has expanded from its original placement in Hudson, Wisconsin and by 2011 there were over 400 across the United States. In 2012, the organization became a nonprofit and was granted tax-exempt status by the IRS. By January 2015, the total number of Little Libraries that are registered across the world exceeds 25,000.

    In trying to maintain a Keep Louisville Weird feel to this piece, I set out to try and discover where the Little Free Libraries are right here in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Here are some places to check out for yourself; I suggest using this list as a scavenger hunt for the spring:

    1. A children's librarian who works for the Louisville Free Public Library has one in her yard in Southern Indiana. That's pretty cool. She received it from the residents at the Henryville Correctional Facility, who constructed the little book box. She says, “The Indiana Little Free Library group acquired it and posted to their FB page that it was free to anyone that would put it up. That's how we ended up with it!”

    2. There is one in Audubon Park, complete with a bench to sit and read. It is located near Wren and Audubon Parkway.

    3. Another is located near the Third Street/Southern Parkway exit off the Watterson Expressway. Getting off of the Watterson at 3rd/Southern Pkwy, turn left. Proceed down 3rd Street. An insider thinks the cross street may be Southern Heights. It's right across from the Thornton’s there. I'm seeking this one out soon to snap a photo!

    4. One sits at 328 Riverside Drive in Jeffersonville right near the Big 4 Bridge. There is also one in North Haven that is a scale model of a Carnegie Library. 

    5. There is one in the Crescent Hill neighborhood of Riedlonn.

    6. One is currently being set up at Highland Presbyterian Preschool.

    7. There is one housed off of Trevilian Way near the Louisville Zoo on Saratoga Drive.

    8. There is one at Field Elementary School, located at 120 Sacred Heart Lane.

    9. Still others exist in and throughout Southern Indiana.

    10. A Wheeler Elementary friend, Lisa Kozarovich, informed me that her new company, My Gnome on the Roam (children's book & adventure kit), is working with Little Free Library. She says, "We love them. We will be donating a portion of our sales, as well as our current book (and the sequel that I just finished!) to their sites AND helping build sites in different cities. We've been mostly working with a contact in Nashville who is very involved and are just starting to get involved with the Louisville areas so I'm anxious to see what you discover in our region. In fact, we plan on involving them when we officially launch our product. The Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft offered to host our launch the first weekend of June!"

    Back in October of 2014, Metro United Way announced on their Facebook page that volunteers were finishing 15 Little Libraries to all be installed in the 40210 zip code. Each library can hold 30 books each. Mary Grissom at Metro United Way is the Director of Engagement Initiatives and has been working on the Little Library project in 40210. It's one of the zip codes with the lowest kindergarten readiness scores and they are developing several projects to try and promote literacy. I also learned that Gwendolyn Kelly is doing work in this same West End area to continue to support this project so that so many children and families can benefit from the path to literacy it will bring. This area includes the neighborhoods of Algonquin, California, and Park Hill. You can read more about her work and the Little Free Library project underway there (a collaboration with Metro United Way, Jefferson County Public Schools, and Louisville Free Public Library) in the March 2015 issue of Louisville Magazine.

    You can learn more about Little Free Library and all kinds of ways to start your own or get involved with the projects by visiting www.littlefreelibrary.org. Also find them on social media via their Facebook page, Twitter account, and on Instagram.

    Know of a Little Free Library near you? Leave a comment or tweet the location to us at @louisvillecom or @loustorygal. We’d love to spread the literary love!

    Photos courtesy of  Erin Nevitt, K. Schiavi (LFPL), P. Croce (Southern Indiana), Metro United Way Facebook Page, & www.littlefreelibrary.org

     

    Erin Nevitt's picture

    About Erin Nevitt

    Longtime Louisvillian, I am a children's librarian at heart and have a passion for children's lit. I am most recently a stay-at-home mom who is always on the move, searching for family fun in Louisville. If it's free, it's preferable!

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