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GEP VISTA Project Builds Little Libraries for Grinnell Neighborhoods

If you've been to Central Park recently, you might have noticed a new addition - a small, bright red cabinet-like structure near the playground. It's a Free Little Library where community members can share books. The libraries are stocked with a variety of books and visitors are able to take a book for free or leave a book that they've finished to share with others. This project, led by GEP AmeriCorps VISTA Ziggy Thétard, constructed four new little libraries for the City of Grinnell. Each new little library was placed in a public park either next to or close to a playground. The libraries promote access to children's literature and young adult books for families in Grinnell.

Slide through to see some of the Little Libraries built by Ziggy Thétard's project.

Since Thétard led the Healthy Readers Taskforce this year, the new libraries were placed in public parks so families can get outside for physical activity while making it very easy for children to access free books. A variety of people contributed strongly to this project, highlighting the efforts of GEP to collaborate within the community to support kids and families. For example, community members Doug (former Davis principal) and Ginny Cameron (former librarian) helped to map out existing Little Libraries in Grinnell. The Grinnell Parks and Recreation department was a key player in finding spots and approving placement of the libraries. Funding for the project was provided by Caleb Ulring and the Grinnell Education Partnership. Additionally, the Friends of Drake Community Library provided funding and in-kind donations of books.

Ziggy Thétard, Caleb Ulring, and members of Grinnell Parks and Recreation department built and prepared the Little Libraries for installation in city parks.

Thétard described the focus of bringing easy access to literacy to specific areas of town: "My taskforce and I worked to track the little libraries in town and figure out where they are. We noticed that most libraries were north of Sixth Avenue. So with the location tracking we decided to place little libraries in public parks below Sixth Avenue." The Little Libraries promote easy access to books and literacy and also add material wealth to communities.

GEP is still working to get little library sponsors to take over the general maintenance of each of the libraries. If you are interested in sponsoring a library by keeping the structure in good order and making sure it is stocked with books, please contact GEP via email at


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