Most people think of libraries as a big building lined with shelves holding tens of thousands of books, not a brightly painted wooden box. In some cases, that’s all it takes.
The Robert W. Carbonaro School is home to Valley Stream’s first Little Free Library, an international movement to promote literacy that began four years ago in Wisconsin. The community’s smallest library was dedicated last Thursday afternoon in a ceremony at the District 24 elementary school.
Little Free Libraries are book exchanges. There are more than 10,000 worldwide, far surpassing the goal of 2,500 that was set when the movement was created. Unlike a school or municipal library, people who use the Little Free Library are not obligated to return the book they take. “You can keep that book forever if you want to,” school librarian Kate Lallier said.
The only rule is that anyone taking a book has to leave a book in return, which must be in good condition. Carbonaro’s Little Free Library, located outside the school near the main entrance on Hungry Harbor Road, is specifically for children’s books.
To celebrate the occasion, children’s author Nan Marino visited the school. She talked to students in grades 3-6 about the writing process. There was a parade, where children marched around the school wearing pictures they drew of their favorite book characters. At the end of the parade route, they got to see the Little Free Library on its perch in front of the school.
There was also an essay contest, where children were asked to write about the importance of libraries. Tamia Melton was chosen to read hers before the student body. She said that reading is an important part of everyday life, so libraries are essential.
Jaclyn Kunz, the children’s librarian at the Henry Waldinger Library, and Village Justice Robert Bogle were among the guests in attendance. Kunz said she is excited to see Valley Stream get its first Little Free Library. “There’s always something new for you to take,” she said. “It’s such a cute idea.”