A Little Community of Readers
“Take a book, return a book,” reads the sign mounted on the front of over 30,000 “little free libraries” across the nation, fostering goodwill among a community of readers.
The national Little Free Library organization establishes mailbox-sized book exchanges in communities to promote literacy and give people access to free books.
“There’s a natural sharing of resources,” Delco Primary librarian Daniela Guardiola said. “It includes books for the earliest readers, like picture books, all the way to novels for adults, so it’s one little library.”
After the establishment of seven little free libraries in the Pflugerville community by the Hendrickson High School manufacturing class in 2014, Guardiola decided her campus should take part in the movement as well.
“The kids need exposure to reading,” Guardiola said, “And they become readers by being immersed in opportunities to read.”
Because the nearest public library is approximately four miles away, getting access to free books is difficult for families who don’t have transportation. Several families solely rely on the school library to check out books, but during the summer they don’t have access, Guardiola said.
“The little library concept grew out of a need for people in the community to have access to reading materials,” Career and Technical Education Coordinator Avery Woods said, “specifically students and parents who may not be able to get to the public library.”
When Guardiola reached out about her interest in obtaining a little library, Woods identified one in the community that had been neglected since the founding in 2014, allowing Delco Primary to adopt it into its community.
With the help of her brother, an aspiring architect, Guardiola redesigned the unkempt library, gave it a fresh coat of chalkboard paint and filled it with books for the families living near the Delco campus.
Since the placement of the little library in the front entrance at Delco in June, Guardiola has already replenished the collection twice.
“I’ve already had to refill it twice, maybe because they are taking more than they are leaving, or maybe because our community doesn’t have as much access to books,” she said, “But as long as we are getting books into the hands of kids, I think we are doing the function of the little library.”
Guardiola plans to place another library out in the community when she raises the funds to build another one.
“I would like to put one in the neighborhood that is more low-income just because there is a higher need there,” Gaurdiola said. “Books are not high on their priority list, so having access to free books would be a good thing.”
She also plans to diversify the collection with more Spanish written books by partnering with H-E-B’s Read 3 program, a book donation drive.
“Half of our population reads in Spanish,” Guardiola said, “But there’s not a lot of books out there available in Spanish that people are willing to donate just because it is hard to come across them.”
Guardiola is excited to see how the little library impacts her community and promotes reading outside of the school walls.
“Reading will not only build them up as readers, but it will also open up different worlds to them, to discover and to continue to have a love for learning and maybe ignite some passions within them,” Gaurdiola said. “It’s just at the foundation of everything else.”
The 2014 Little Free Library Project in PfISD