The Little Free Libraries Project is a collaborative project between Syracuse University’s iSchool, the College of Visual and Performance Arts (VPA) and residents of Syracuse’s Near Westside (NWS). This project grew out of a late summer tweet from Jill Hurst-Wahl, incoming Director of the Library and Information Science graduate program at the iSchool. She posted a link about Little Free Libraries being built in Wisconsin and wondered if we could do the same here in Syracuse.
The idea quickly sparked our imagination and this project was formed. Building on relationships cultivated through Common Ground, an initiative to create collaborative relationships between the iSchool and VPA, the Syracuse Little Free Library Project (SYR-LFL) will bring together librarians, designers, community outreach representatives from the university, and members of the Syracuse community.
What are Little Free Libraries?
Just a short time ago, Richard Brooks and Todd Bol launched the Little Free Libraries project in Wisconsin. With the help of local volunteers and small businesses, Rick and Todd have created and installed dozens of small, customized structures throughout their communities. These tiny buildings house community-based lending libraries, collections of books on specific themes available to any member of the community to borrow. Over time they have explored a range of formats and themes for these community based book repositories, striving to make sure that every Little Free LIbrary is a point of open exchange inviting residents to “Take a book, return a book.”
We contacted Rick and Todd and were delighted that they enthusiastically encouraged the extension of their project in Syracuse. The project also has the strong support of iSchool Dean Elizabeth Liddy and the Vice President of Community Engagement and Economic Development at SU, Marilyn Higgins. While we believe that Little Free Libraries can not take the place of the full range of resources and services available in our public libraries, we see enormous potential in their ability to promote literacy and conversation in our community.
Participate in the Project
The SYR-LFL project is launching this weekend with a day-long free workshop bringing together a select group of librarians, designers and members of the Syracuse community. There will be approximately 20 participants, including students and faculty from the iSchool and VPA, representatives from SU Community Engagement and residents of the NWS. Library and information science students will focus on issues related to community collection development and establishing connections between these structures and local public libraries. Design students will be planning and leading construction of compelling, weather-proofed structures based on themes identified by NWS residents. By the end of the workshop we hope to have 1) identified approximately 5 tentative locations for LFL on the Near Westside of Syracuse, 2) community-based themes for the LIS students to develop “starter” book collections for each little library, and 3) a list of design requirements for the VPA students to use when designing the structures.
We’ll be posting updates on this project as it evolves. Where would you like to see a Little Free Library pop up in your community?