Little Free Library Encourages Reading in Youngstown Communities

By Jambar Contributor

Tre Mastran

The Student Government Association at Youngstown State University plans to begin expanding the Little Free Library program in order to provide accessible, free literature to the Youngstown community.

Small, birdhouse-sized boxes containing books are scattered around Youngstown. These are the result of the Little Free Library program, a nationwide initiative in which written works are offered to communities through a “take one/leave one” format exchange system.

Korinne Sackela, SGA’s vice president for assessment and enrichment, explained how the program will continue to be implemented in Youngstown neighborhoods.

“Student government will be working with the Youngstown Rotary to find and secure specific localities in the city, as well as install them,” Sackela said. “In addition, we will work with student organizations on campus that are interested in sponsoring libraries. From there, we hope to set a date in which everyone can come together to build and decorate their libraries.”

Though the primary expenditure will be materials used to build each tiny library, Sackela said the price tag of the project may vary depending on the level of interest expressed by contributing organizations.

“The costs of this initiative are really dependent upon the type of response generated from student organizations across campus,” Sackela said. “What could be $200 for one organization that simply sponsors a small library could end up being hundreds more for an organization that takes the time to really design and build a spectacular library to put up in Youngstown.”

In order to help the initiative’s continued success, SGA and its partners have outlined plans to proceed with development and upkeep of new book boxes. SGA President Rayann Atway described the process of the Little Free Library implementation.

“SGA will be organizing other groups to partner with and will set a date to have volunteers from each organization come and build the libraries around the community,” Atway said. “We will also be partnering with groups to host a book drive, so we can stock up the libraries.”

The Youngstown Main Library has also participated in the program in previous years. Janet Loew, the communications and public relations director for the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County said she feels the Little Free Library program has a very particular effect for the local residents.

“The little free library is a unique concept because it puts books out where people can take them without going through the process of getting a library card,” Loew said. “There are people who don’t like to come into libraries just because they feel shy or they’re not particularly confident. It’s reaching out to the community where the community is with reading materials and giving them an opportunity to read in a little more unique way.”

Participants hope that the Little Free Library program will serve to strengthen the sense of community between YSU and the surrounding area. The goal is to create a mainstay for Youngstown residents, remaining long after SGA’s tenure as students at YSU.

“Once we graduate, we want this to stick around and to make an impact even when we are gone,” Atway said.