Little libraries, big love for reading.
County Supervisor Nora Vargas, Chula Vista city officials and San Diego County Library officials revealed the county's first 'Little Library' at Lauderbach Park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday.
Resembling large mailboxes, the Little Library acts as a neighborhood book exchange where local families can freely borrow or leave books for others to read. At Saturday's 'Little Library' opening, children and families had the chance to look at various books, some even in different languages, including "The Thank You Book,” “Can I Play Too?” and “Dora La Exploradora.”
“These [Little Libraries] are small neighborhood libraries that can be placed throughout our communities to allow anyone to have access to books closer to home,” Vargas said. "We as the County are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. We want to inspire children and encourage everyone to read. Soon we will be opening other Little Libraries in the South Bay region, with locations in San Ysidro, Otay, and one in Paradise Hills."
This countywide initiative is an effort to boost literacy in low-income and communities of color by giving people and children living in those communities more opportunities to have and read books in their homes, Vargas said. Led by Vargas, the County’s Board of Supervisors voted in March 2020 to move forward with this initiative.
San Diegans can expect to see more Little Libraries in other parks and community centers, as the county plans to help install a total of 40 Little Libraries. The San Diego County Library and the County’s Parks and Recreation department each plan to put up 20 of them in the coming months around the county.
The county has already put Little Libraries up in Chula Vista, Bonita and San Diego, and has plans for other communities, including Borrego Springs, Campo, Julian, El Cajon, Lakeside, Vista and Oceanside.
Vargas said in March that the County Library had “been fantastic” in promoting and increasing literacy through its 33 branch libraries, digital and e-books, services and programs.
However, she said families in some neighborhoods struggle with lack of transportation that keep families from taking advantage of the branch libraries, or face financial constraints that hinders internet access and buying books.
Little Libraries can help solve these obstacles by putting books in communities and promoting and encouraging reading at home — an important boost for literacy, Vargas said.
County Library Director Migell Acosta said research has shown that having as few as 20 books in a home can have a positive effect on a child’s level of education regardless of income.
Approximately 560,000 local adults read at an elementary school level, or not at all, and 60% of low-income students have no books at home, the San Diego Council on Literacy reported in 2020. Officials said Saturday that this disparity had increased by the pandemic.
The Library, through donations from the San Diego Council on Literacy, Words Alive and the Children’s Initiative, will help jump-start each of the Little Library collections with books.
For more information about the Little Library initiative and to see upcoming and current locations, click the link here.