Baldwin gets a literacy boosting makeover, as Little Free Libraries appear around town in various semi-hidden locations. With three currently installed and one on the way, Elissa Kirchner, the co-chair of the Baldwin Civic Association’s Beautification Committee, said, “Hopefully more” are created and registered in the future.
With goals to make the town more walkable and increase local literacy, the little libraries are free to use without having to put more books in. However, if a passerby would like to donate books or exchange one for another, that is also acceptable.
Kirchner is regularly reloading and regulating the books to make them appropriate for all audiences. Saying she adds different genres to different spots, “The one by the train station, I put more novels in and by the community garden more kids’ [books]”; however, each has an eclectic mix for all ages.
The best part about checking up on the libraries she says is “the simple fact that when I load them up, I’m seeing new books that other people have put in or books the [community] have taken.”
So far, the local little libraries are in the process of becoming officially registered with the Little Free Library organization and cannot be found using their online location services. But that adds to the adventure says Kirchner, “I want people to walk to find them.”
The first one was put up by one of the train station entrances--the library has a hard to miss mint green coloring and large planters adjacent. The second pretty pink library is somewhere in the Community Garden. The third is by the closed Shubert Elementary school in a tan library box. The fourth is yet to be installed, but will be by the new Silver Lake Park path and benches, once that is completed.
The construction of the boxes started with the help of Vincent Leis, a Baldwin High School technology teacher, and his Life Skills Video Production students. Making the boxes for a project a few years ago, this project has been in the works for a while and has finally been able to come to fruition. The little libraries are truly a “community effort” says Kirchner with “many people asking to donate” and eager to find them around town.
With the boxes made, Kirchner made the bases with her father-in-law and installed them around town together, making sure to all-weather them--this winter will be their first test. Once in the ground, they added the finishing beautifying touches with flowers and planters around each to complete the inviting aesthetic.
Kirchner says the community “responses have been wonderful,” and studies done by Little Free Library show that when books are in or near a home, the more likely a child will learn and love to read. Not only improving the literacy of kids, having the books within proximity can help the “one in 10 Nassau County adults [that] cannot read a job application, write an email or speak with their child's teacher.”
Kirchner has been an active member of the Beautification Committee since the Baldwin Civic Association began. Adopting a town block to hold a story and craft times for children in the Community Garden, she has also been responsible for numerous plantings around town.
New and upcoming activities, like community rock paintings and working on Geocaching around town, can be found on the Baldwin Civic Association website.