My Catawba County

Little Boxes of Wonder

Little Boxes of Wonder

Little Free Libraries provide a fun and creative community book exchange by enabling people to take a book to enjoy or leave a book to share with others. More than a dozen Little Free Libraries in Catawba County are supported by the Catawba County Partnership for Children as a way to spark interest in reading among young children. To learn more about these little boxes of wonder, we reached out to Catawba County Partnership for Children Executive Director Kim Holden.

What is the Catawba County Partnership for Children’s Little Free Library initiative?
Catawba County’s Leadership Academy got us started with Little Free Libraries back in 2019, when they installed 12 libraries in various locations across the county as part of their group project.  They reached out to the Catawba County Partnership for Children, because putting books in the hands of Catawba County’s children is one of our early literacy goals and directly aligns with our work with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Since then, we have added 4 more Little Free Libraries in the county for a total of 16.  Our role is to help keep the Little Free Libraries full of children’s books so that all children in Catawba County have access to books and develop an early love of reading.

How do people, especially young children, benefit from having access to Little Free Libraries?
Having access to age appropriate children’s books is a significant step in developing the early literacy skills needed to be ready for success in school!  It is important for parents and caregivers to read to children, even when they’re babies, to start to build their children’s brains and to get them on track for reading. 

Where/how can people find your Little Free Libraries in our community?
We have a list of Little Free Library locations posted on our website. You can download the Little Free Libraries app and search your area for libraries in your community. The LFL locations listed on our website include children’s books, free interactive games for children to do with their caregivers, as well as information about how to enroll in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program.  There are also QR codes on the front of each of our libraries that direct families to events at the Catawba County Library and Hickory Public Library. 

How are Little Free Library locations selected?
The Catawba County Leadership Academy originally selected the locations for their Little Free Libraries based on communities with less access to children’s books. Since that time, we have worked to map the addresses of children who enter kindergarten without having had the opportunity to attend any type of preschool program. Our new Little Free Library locations have been placed in locations with higher percentages of children who didn’t go to pre-k, or in locations where families seek other community services, like Catawba County Public Health.

How can a local organization become a Little Free Library site?
Anyone can install a Little Free Library!  You can purchase one pre-made, or make your own. Instructions are online here. We are happy to help!

Who designed the Little Free Library boxes?
The Little Free Libraries that we refill have been painted by a variety of volunteers across the county.  We purchased the unpainted libraries through the Little Free Library organization, and local volunteers have painted them with their own designs and messaging.  [The photo with this story captured the ribbon cutting for the Little Free Library at Catawba County Public Health. It was created by volunteer artist Cameron McNally, who is pictured with her parents and Catawba County Public Health Director Jennifer McCracken.]

How can the community support your Little Free Libraries?
We use about 3,500 books a year to refill our Little Free Library locations, so we are always looking for gently used children’s books!  We are so appreciative when folks donate books from their own homes or when they host book drives for us.  We also appreciate local volunteers who help us to refill the libraries and help to pack the interactive game bags that we include.  For anyone who is interested in hosting a Book Drive or who would like to volunteer, please call us at 828-695-6505.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Collaboration is what makes Catawba County such an awesome community.  Our Little Free Library project is a great example of that.  We work very closely with Catawba County agencies and nonprofits, as well as the City of Hickory, to make our Little Free Library project a success.  We deeply appreciate all of the organizations and individuals who provide support and volunteer time!