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Indoor Little Libraries- Free Books While You Wait

Ever thought it’d be nice for the kiddos to have something to do while dad is throwing in the laundry at the mat?  Or while mom is waiting to get in to see her social worker at the local Health Department Office?  Read early. Read often. (RERO) Oceana is teaming up with local agencies and businesses to provide needed books not only for families to utilize while on site, but to take home a book of their choosing as well!

Thanks to partners like above, Read early. Read often., now in its fourth year, has become a valued program throughout the County.  Beginning with a few passionate supporters around the table working on launching the program, to having a strong volunteer team and nearly 70 partners in distribution – the program is thriving.  In 2018, RERO distributed 4,958 books, as of July 1, 2019, the program has already placed 3,200 books into the hands of children in Oceana County.

RERO continues to promote early literacy through advocacy and the distribution of free children’s books with the help of many partners including local food pantries, farmer’s markets, and nonprofits.  The Community Foundation for Oceana County provides leadership for the program, hosting Coordinator, Danielle Siegel, as the Americorps VISTA member.  Siegel builds the capacity of the program through fundraising and grantwriting, advocacy and outreach, and making and building new connections.

Space has been identified and allocated at District Health Department #10, Department of Health and Human Services, Bread of Life Food Pantry, and the Laundry Basket in Hart.  At these locations children can look at and read books while they are on-site as well as take a free book home with each visit.

In its most recent efforts, partnerships have been shaped in a new way with local businesses and agencies dedicating space in their lobbies or offices for an indoor version of the ever popular, and cute, Little Free Libraries.  At these indoor locations, receptionists and workers are able to draw attention to the bookshelves, advising families to access and take home the free books, advocating for the importance of early literacy, and assisting to pick out an age appropriate book.

Bookcases were provided to some of the locations, built by Pentwater Artisan Center and funded with a grant from the Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council.    Ms. Siegel expressed “It has been awesome working with area students from the Youth Advisory Council, they understand the need and continuously support the program when they are able.  Local funding going back into a local agency [Pentwater Artisan Center] for bookshelves, and the bookshelves going back out to provide local businesses with a place to give out free books- really puts their money into the community.”

How can you help this effort to increase early literacy? If interested in setting up an indoor little library at your location, inquiries can be made to Ms. Siegel at (231) 861-8335 or dsiegel@cffmc.org.  Book donations can be dropped off at any Oceana Library, the Community Foundation Office located at Shelby State Bank in Pentwater, or dropped into any one of the Little Free Libraries. More information on RERO can be found at www.oceana-foundation.org/community-impact/rero.  If you would like to support this program, donations can be sent to the Community Foundation for Oceana County at P.O. Box 902, Pentwater MI, 49449.