Little Libraries: Partnership to promote reading in ‘book deserts’

Courtesy photo A youngster opens one of the Little Free Libraries to obtain reading material this summer. The small, house-type boxes are made possible by BAE Systems, the Nashua Public Library and the United Way of Greater Nashua.

NASHUA – Through a partnership that includes BAE Systems, the Nashua Public Library and P&L Landscaping, United Way of Greater Nashua is bringing eight brand new Little Free Libraries to the city of Nashua by the end of August.

The Little Free Libraries consist of a small house-type structure – about 2 ½ feet square on a post – filled with free books and placed in “book deserts” around the community.

“A book desert is a location that typically is far enough away from a public library or other source of books that a person wouldn’t get there by foot and also is in a low- or mixed-income neighborhood where people cannot afford to purchase books easily,” according to a press release from the United Way of Greater Nashua.

Organizers touted this program as a nationally recognized approach to creating community through reading. The eight Little Free Libraries will be installed Aug. 30 by a team of BAE Systems’ volunteers. Locations for the libraries are: the Nashua Rail Trail, Labine Park, the Legacy Playground, Lamprey Healthcare, the Adult Learning Center, the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, the Greater Nashua Dental Connection and the United Way office on Broad Street.

Over time, the libraries will be maintained by a team of volunteer stewards, and there is still an opportunity to become a steward, organizers report.

United Way President Mike Apfelberg said,“A Little Free Library steward is responsible for checking up on their library about twice a month, repairing any light damage or vandalism, keeping the library clean and welcoming, and restocking the library with an assortment of books. It’s a great, easy way to give back to the community, especially for people who love books!”

Anyone who is interested in becoming a steward may email Apfelberg at mapfelberg@unitedwaynashua.org

The various partners in the program each are playing a specific role, Apfelberg said. BAE Systems is paying for one-third of the installation cost and is supplying the volunteer labor to get the program off the ground.

“BAE Systems has partnered with the United Way for many years in helping to address the needs of the areas where our employees live and work,” said Lu Goncalves-Getty, director of Community Investment for BAE Systems, Electronic Systems. “We are excited to be partnering again on this important initiative to help encourage reading in our community.”

P&L Landscaping is digging the holes needed for installation of all the libraries. The Nashua Public Library is paying for one-third of the installation costs. Through its “Friends of the Nashua Public Library,” it also has committed to supplying the books to keep the libraries filled with books for kids and adults as well as in a variety of languages.

The United Way is paying the final one-third of the installation cost through its emergent needs fund and is coordinating the overall project.

“We are very excited to be bringing this innovative approach to encouraging access to reading to our community and are very thankful for the partnership with NPL, BAE Systems and P&L,” Apfelberg said. “It’s a great example of Living United in our community!”