Ivy Tech launches Little Free Libraries initiative

By Mike Leonard
331-4368 | mleonard@heraldt.com
April 22, 2013

When Chelsea Rood-Emmick read a magazine story about Little Free Libraries several months ago, her thoughts immediately went to delight and admiration for the concept.

The little libraries are sturdy, weatherproof boxes that hold a dozen or more books and can be placed anywhere — in yards or public places. They’re usually marked with instructions: “Take a book. Leave a book. Or both!”

The little libraries promote literacy, the sharing of resources and community. And it would be an understatement to say the concept has taken off in a big way.

Started as a small, community-minded project in Wisconsin a year ago, organizers estimate there are now as many as 6,000 Little Free Libraries in places worldwide, from across the United States to developed countries such as Germany and resource-constrained places including Afghanistan and Uganda.

“It kind of surprised me that Bloomington hadn’t latched onto this yet, because it seems like such a Bloomington thing to do,” Rood-Emmick said.

As executive director for the Center for Civic Engagement at Ivy Tech-Bloomington, Rood-Emmick was in a good position to make it happen.

First, she talked to facilities staff members at Ivy Tech, who said they could build the dollhouse-sized libraries out of scrap materials. Then, students involved with the O’Bannon Institute for Community Service volunteered to paint and decorate the three little libraries community organizations requested.

Within a week or two, the sturdy, weatherproof little libraries will be in place at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, Community Kitchen-Crestmont and Middle Way House. A fourth has been requested by Head Start, and there very likely will be more on the way, because anyone can build their own.

Rood-Emmick is still collecting books appropriate for each of her inaugural boxes: gardening, canning and nutrition-oriented books for Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard; children’s books for Middle Way House; and a variety for Community Kitchen-Crestmont.

“We fully expect some books to walk away,” she said. “But we also expect that people will be eager to replenish the supply as well.”

The initiative gets the hearty approval of Ivy Tech Chancellor John Whikehart. “It’s civic engagement at its finest,” he said last week. “It’s part of our commitment to giving back.”

Rood-Emmick said she would prefer that potential book donors contact her at 330-6037 rather than dropping off books that may not be appropriate. To learn more about the official Little Free Libraries program, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org.

Two of the dollhouse-sized Little Free Library boxes created by Ivy Tech Community College staff members and students are seen awaiting placement in the community. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2013


About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.