In 2014, when we first got involved with this project, it was observed that northern Nevada had fewer “Little Libraries” than other parts of the country. In a short period, we grew from 3 to 30 "Little Libraries" in northern Nevada. How did we do this? The biggest push to put "Little Libraries" into local neighborhoods was accomplished by UNR students. A variety of UNR student groups got involved over the past few years. These groups have also helped to shed light on potential locations for Little Libraries as well as provide information on their production and maintenance.
Background: While “Little Libraries” may not directly impact the literacy rate, they increase interest in reading. As such, "Little Libraries" work nicely in tandem with ongoing statewide literacy efforts to increase third grade reading scores. According to 2012-2013 information, the literacy rate in the state of Nevada was below the national average: by grade four, the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) showed that only 27% of students in the state were proficient (or above) in reading. Reading by grade three has been shown to be the crucial age to to learn to read. In grade four, children begin reading to learn.
If you are interested in Little Libraries, start by Identifying a location and a steward: A Little Library must be installed in a legal, safe location. Ideally, the location of a Little Library should be one that generates enough foot traffic so that it will be utilized. Once the location is decided on, the Little Library needs a steward. This is the person or group that will maintain and check up on the Little Library. Their responsibilities include keeping the library clean and stocked and also promoting the library in the neighborhood.
Next, get a Little Library. Libraries can be built or purchased. The cost of a Little Library varies depending on whether you want to build it from scratch or order one of the many premade designs offered online.
The age group that we choose to target for Little Libraries are children and their older brothers and sisters. Choosing new locations that are near to elementary schools can be beneficial to the neighborhoods and the children. Little Libraries will also be easily accessible to the children and get them outside and active. They can read at the parks nearby or even on the playground when school is out.
But it isn't a one time thing -- Maintaining a successful Little Library requires time and dedication. The steward must keep the library clean and stocked. Our weather conditions mean that the Little Libraries need sanding and repainting too. If you aren't ready to build a new Little Library, please consider joining other volunteers that maintain and stock existing Little Libraries that are now sprinkled throughout northern Nevada.