On June 22 I will visit the Cleveland Public Library, five little free libraries, and the Kids’ Book Bank—all by bicycle. At each stop I will meet with the steward and donate books, including my novel. My books of course are not for kids, so I asked my novel’s distributor, Publishers Group West, if they could supply me with some new hardback children’s books—and they did! So I will also be giving away children’s books along the way as well.
Cleveland is a library-loving town and I love libraries. As luck would have it, I was planning to jaunt up to Cleveland to see Shakespeare’s First Folio which is being shown at the Cleveland Public Library. I began to research their libraries and was impressed to learn about their city-side initiative to develop over 100 Little Free Libraries. To put it simply, if you’re looking to visit a half dozen libraries, a book bank, and see one of the Western world’s most-revered texts, Cleveland is your town.
I want to highlight how Little Free Libraries make books more accessible to their communities. I work at a public library and I love it; but I have to admit we still cannot reach everyone. Some people are simply not in proximity to a library. We need all types of libraries to bring literacy to people—everything from bookmobiles and outreach services at the public library to specialized libraries in schools and private organizations. And we especially need libraries in our communities. I want to show how Cleveland has successfully developed a robust literary culture that is not dependent on having access to cars.
Like I said, Cleveland is a town that cares about literacy. When I began to plan this venture, I had figured I would be contacting private individuals, folks who put a Little Free Library in their yard. What I discovered is that Cleveland is a city that cares deeply about literacy and has several organizations involved in developing a more robust culture of reading. I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with folks from the Sisters of Charity, Kids’ Book Bank, and the YWCA. From there I was referred to more Little Free Library venues, including the Cleveland Police Department (who house four libraries) and Hough Vineyards—a sustainable inner city farming program—which also boasts a library. As I planned out my bicycle tour, I learned more about each of these organizations and the significant impact they have on the community. Because the work they do is so important, I am highlighting every of them on this blog page each day, starting on June 17.