Developments receive little libraries

Advocates for literacy often stress the importance of books in the home — especially for the family’s little ones.

The Altoona Housing Authority has taken advantage of Community Development Block Grants to install repositories for books — sized to appeal to little ones — at its two family developments.

The authority will hold dedication ceremonies this week for Little Free Library installations at Pleasant Village and Fairview Hills, courtesy of city CDBG allocations totaling $850 and the stewardship of Sarah Johnson of Sinking Valley.

Operated by a Wisconsin nonprofit, the Little Free Library program has placed 80,000 tiny houses on posts with shelves for books that anyone can take in all 50 states and more than 90 countries, according to the program website.

There are several of the birdhouse-like structures in this area, including one previously placed at Jefferson Park under stewardship of Johnson, with the help of three area churches; two others previously placed in Altoona, one in Bellwood and one in Tipton, Johnson said.

“It’s part of loving your neighbor,” Johnson said.

To get the little libraries installed at Pleasant Village and Fairview Hills, Johnson worked with Mayor Matt Pacifico, the authority, the Altoona Area Public Library and the city planning office, which administers the CDBG program.

She was impressed with “how easily this came to fruition” — minus the expected obstacles, she said.

“It was a smooth process,” she stated.

She is stocking the structures with books, with the help of donations from friends.

The books are generally oriented toward young people, with an emphasis on quality, as signaled by literary awards, though nothing with witchcraft or the occult, she said.

She also is providing popular novels.

The Jefferson Park library was donated and installed by her husband, Andy, she said.

The libraries placed on the authority properties were purchased from the Little Free Library organization and installed by authority maintenance workers, Johnson said.

Ideally, users take a book and leave a book, but there’s no problem if they take one and don’t leave another, Johnson said.

“It’s absolutely OK if they never have a book to leave,” she said.

Children who grow up in homes with lots of books tend to advance academically three years beyond children who grow up in homes without books, according to the Little Free Library website.

About 61 percent of low-income homes lack age-appropriate books for kids, according to the website.

“Little Free Libraries play an essential role (in helping families in those homes) by providing 24/7 access,” the website states.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.


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