I’m AJ Marsden, president of the Pasadena Neighborhood bordered by Camelback/Missouri and 7th/15th Avenues. Pasadena toyed with the idea of Little Libraries in the past. We questioned if they would be used and left unharmed. Our Neighborhood Specialist from the City’s Neighborhood Services Department arranged for AmeriCorps VISTAs to present at our November 2015 meeting. I held up the application and said any resident with a community idea can write the $1,000 grant. Two families chimed in about Little Libraries.
We applied for two Little Free Libraries and were awarded the funding. The grant managing team had some ideas about how the project should flow – order two pre-made painted libraries from LittleFreeLibrary.org and buy registration rights and installation supplies. A new steward campaign was started to find hosts strategically placed around the neighborhood. With locations set, our handyman neighbor worked with the hosts to install the Little Free Libraries. It was happening!
The May ribbon cutting for the first location was exciting. Families with kids and other residents arrived. The VISTAs came. We actually cut a ribbon tied around the Little Free Library. This unit is kid themed. The second one is for grownups. Both hosts enjoy seeing others visit their yards. Neither host stockpiles books; the flow of taking and leaving books works. When the Little Free Libraries get low, a blast is sent out to drop off a book when passing by. Once one of the units was emptied overnight. The host refilled it with books they no longer read. We waited to see if it would be needlessly emptied again. Nope. The neighborhood enjoyment and use has continued throughout the past five months. Our first read-in social event is planned for near Halloween.
The Love Your Block application process for year two is now available online, with a simpler format than last year’s application. Reading the Love Your Block Toolkit is crucial. Feel free to call on the VISTAs for help. They are gems. If they do not have an answer, they will get it for you. Love Your Block is a great opportunity for a $1,000 project. Get an idea you fancy, a lead team in place, and go for it. Your neighborhood can do “that” project you’ve been toying with.
The City of Phoenix is working on an initiative to expand Little Free Libraries beyond the Pasadena Neighborhood and is hoping that Little Free Libraries will become an integral part of city-wide literacy and community engagement efforts. If you are interested in being a part of this momentum and want to learn how you can build Little Free Libraries in your neighborhood with Love Your Block funding, please reach out to the AmeriCorps VISTAs!
The Love Your Block Application is now available online at phoenix.gov/volunteer (click on “Love Your Block”) and the deadline is November 18th, 2016. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 262-4790 for more information.