Little free libraries placed at apartment complex and park in Howell

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HOWELL – New little free libraries that have been placed at Deerwood Park and Countryside Place Apartments in Howell have joined the Little Free Library movement to share books, bring people together and create communities of readers.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world, according to its website.

Books may be borrowed from the small freestanding libraries.

The organization provides support to volunteer Little Free Library stewards by providing free library building instructions, online resources and ongoing support from Little Free Library staff, access to free or discounted books through its partners, and an online store that offers library kits and pre-built library models, according to the website.

The organization maintains a world map of registered little free libraries to help people find and share books wherever they are, and donates little free libraries to communities where books are scarce.

Howell educators Renee LeFante and Christine Vercierta will hold a grand opening ceremony for their Howell Township Education Foundation grant-funded little free libraries at 10 a.m. June 22 at Countryside Place Apartments, 11 North American Drive.

LeFante and Vercierta are instructional coaches for teachers in the Howell K-8 School District. LeFante works at the Ardena and Adelphia schools, and Vercierta works at the Ramtown and Greenville schools.

The two educators said they had a vision of encouraging a love of reading, one neighborhood at a time, by installing little free libraries – one in north Howell and one in south Howell. Deerwood Park is at 2740 Lakewood-Allenwood Road.

“We were originally literacy coaches and now we are instructional coaches, so we coach everything, but … we had been talking about (little free libraries) for years and getting them in Howell,” LeFante said.

Being the recipients of the Bill O’Brien Community Service Grant funded by the Howell Township Education Foundation allowed the educators to purchase, install and place books in the small libraries.

LeFante explained why Deerwood Park and the Countryside Place Apartments were selected as the first two locations for the little free libraries.

“My schools are in north Howell, so I wanted my students to be able to participate. We have students who live in the apartments and in mobile home parks, and they do not have access to the library or getting to the library. So I really wanted to do it for economically disadvantaged children,” she said.

“We also wanted to do something in the southern part of Howell. We thought (Deerwood Park) was a high traffic area and it’s free, so a lot of people go there and we figure they will do some reading while they are there,” LeFante said.

The two educators said they would apply for other grants, but they are hoping the rest of the school district will follow their lead and install little free libraries at other locations.

The teachers hope to enlist volunteers to build more little free libraries and reach as many neighborhoods as they can.

“Right now we have an Eagle Scout who is building two more (libraries) and we are asking Brownies and Girl Scouts if they want to be stewards and maintain the libraries,” LeFante said.

She said she believes the two little free libraries that are being built by the Eagle Scout will be installed at the Greenville and Taunton schools.

“These little free libraries provide a wonderful opportunity to break away from the digital world and restore a dying tradition of bringing books into the hands of children,” Veracierta said.

LeFante added, “It is our hope these little free libraries will bring a little more joy, a little more connection and a whole lot more books to our students, especially during the summer months.”