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Local publisher and editor for Macaroni KID Acadia-St. Landry makes it her mission to supply local area library boxes with adequate books for summer.

Many efforts have been made to encourage and promote literacy throughout schools and after-school programs and even summer reading initiatives with library programs. But what happens once school is out? There are many underdeveloped communities in St. Landry Parish without access to a public library.

Reading is so important and a skill you use every day, so it makes sense to increase opportunities that will help enhance and encourage strong reading skills.

We are fortunate to have a public library, which will very soon be undergoing a remodel, and now our very own local book store, Black Pot Bookshop in Downtown Opelousas. However, for those that live in outlying areas of the parish, access to books does not come so easily.

Little free library boxes have paved the way in smaller communities to give residents in rural areas the opportunity to access books without the limitations of time or space. The concept is to provide a receptacle where passersby can browse through a small selection of books to take home, with the intention of replacing with another so that books are always in rotation.

“After collecting a generous amount of books at the end of the school year, I wanted to be sure they all went to the right places where they would get used rather than end up in the dumpster. I also wanted to be able to place them where they were easily and readily available for anyone, not for resale at a thrift store where they would probably sit and collect dust. So this summer I made it a personal project to seek out local library boxes where I could bring them.”

“My focus was to begin with the smaller communities where I knew there were no nearby libraries available to ensure those areas could take advantage of the little library boxes.”

Where to Find a Little Free Library Box

The former St. Landry Parish Head Start Centers (now known as Save the Children centers) each had a Readers are Leaders box installed in front of their buildings a few years ago so that’s where we started.

Other locations have recycled newspaper containers such as those located in front of the outpatient lab department at Opelousas General Hospital and one in front of the Chamber of Commerce.

“Some boxes were in need of repair so I brought tools with me to fix up the ones that I could and made minor additions to the ones I couldn’t, placing plastic bins to hold books inside to help protect them from the elements.

I estimated a little over 500 books that I filled up the back of my SUV with, which I graciously received from fellow teachers who were cleaning out their classrooms to make room for new materials, etc. and as word got around about what I was doing I had a few friends that were happy to give some of their books as well. So far I have successfully restocked 16 little library box locations just in St. Landry Parish alone which include: Opelousas, Port Barre, Washington, Lebeau, Melville, Krotz Springs just to name a few. I still have many more to go which will also include Acadia Parish locations, until all of the books are distributed”

You can find a directory of these book exchange box locations on Macaroni KID Acadia-St. Landry’s Little Free Library Guide where you can drop off books if you wish to donate in your local community.

While the idea of these book exchange boxes is to ‘take a book, leave a book’ often times the boxes are left empty as people go through them. So why continue refilling them?

“A friend of mine informed me they had a little free library box in Lebeau, located in front of Stelly’s but it rarely ever had any children’s books. While passing through I stopped and filled up their box. Two young girls walked right up to it immediately after and asked if they were free. I told them yes and they happily gazed through the books and walked away with arms full and smiles on their faces of genuine appreciation as they took them home. I went back and refilled the box again before going to my next location. To see how happy they were with their books, which they may not likely have any of their own at home to replace them with, makes it worthwhile.”

Rocking Chair Readers Literacy Event

Speaking of literacy, the St. Landry Early Learning Network will be hosting their Community Literacy Event which was rescheduled from its previous date to this Thursday, June 20th. The event will be held at Le Vieux Village Heritage Park from 5:30pm-7:30pm, weather permitting. Bring the kids out for this free family-oriented community event where they will enjoy a story time, door prizes, refreshments and much more.

Author

  • Courtney Jennings

    Courtney Jennings is a contributing writer with St. Landry Now since 2023 covering local events throughout the parish. She also runs the local publication MacaroniKID Acadia-St. Landry, an online publication and weekly e-newsletter on family friendly activities, local events, and community resources for parents.

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