Children from the Northport Apartments chose their new books. Photo by Pat Wongkit

By Lesley Kircher
Lakeview Branch Library

Brentwood neighborhood residents display books for the Little Free Library.
Photo by Lesley Kircher

The Northside gained three new Little Free Libraries this summer. The libraries were built, painted, installed and filled with books in June and August.

I’ve noticed a plethora of Little Free Libraries in some neighborhoods and none or very few in other neighborhoods. As the new librarian at Lakeview Library, I wanted to get more books into the hands of children, especially during the summer.

Summer is an important time for children to read because they are not in school. Reading during the summer helps children not only remember things they learned during the school year but also better prepares them for returning to their studies in the fall. Summer reading for fun helps children discover new worlds and new adventures through great books, graphic novels, comic books and magazines. Some children might not have access to a library card to check out books. With Free Little Libraries, they can take a book home at any time.

Venus Washington, a member of Women In Focus, Inc., put me in touch with Amber Raffeet August, who leads the group’s literacy committee. Formed in 1983, Women In Focus is a Dane County nonprofit whose mission is to support the education of youth of color in the Madison community.

Following our meeting, I reached out to program directors at three

Children in the summer program at the Packers Townhouses paint their Little Free Library.
Photo by Lesley Kircher

Northside apartment complexes in order to engage with the most children possible. The response was fantastic. All three enthusiastically said “yes.” With grant funding from the Alliant Energy Foundation, our Little Free Library dream became a reality.

We were able to further engage the community when Edith Hilliard, who is a member of Women In Focus and also works at the Goodman Community Center, was able to recruit teens from the Center’s TEENworks program to build the Little Free Libraries. This supported their program and created strong and durable Little Free Libraries for the Northside.

After their construction, children from each of the apartment complexes decorated their Little Free Libraries exactly as they wanted. We had a celebration at each location and every child picked out a new book to keep. We will continue to fill the Little Free Libraries with great books and other reading materials for the entire community to enjoy.

The Little Free Libraries are located at Packers Townhomes, 1927 Northport Dr. (in front of the Packer Community Learning Center), Northport Apartments, 1740 Northport Dr., and in the Brentwood neighborhood at 2405 Monterey Dr. (near the corner of Monterey Drive and Trailsway Street).

Feel free to add books to any of the Little Free Libraries or drop off book donations at the Lakeview Library, 2845 N. Sherman Ave. To learn more about Little Free Libraries, visit littlefreelibrary.org.

If you are interested in purchasing a Little Free Library (the cost is $80), please call the Goodman Community Center at 241-1574 or email info@goodmancenter.org.

Happy reading, Madison.