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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 3:01 pm | Fair 66º


Children in Isla Vista Get Better Access to Books with Their Own ‘Little Free Libraries’

Isla Vista Children's Park is one of five locations throughout the community now serving as homes for the tiny libraries

Last October, Isla Vista Youth Projects Director LuAnn Miller was taking a walk through a Dallas park when she stumbled upon a delightful surprise.

Miller was on a break from a conference in the city, and was using the time to stroll nearby when she spotted a Little Free Library in the park.

"I just fell in love," she said.

The tiny libraries, which often hold just a dozen or so books, are placed in areas where residents may not have easy access to a brick-and-mortar library.  

The motto is "take a book, give a book," and the books are free to read and return or keep. The Little Free Libraries are part of a nonprofit organization of the same name with a mission to promote literacy around the world.

Looking at the Little Free Library in Dallas, Miller knew one just like it would be perfect in Isla Vista someday.

On Monday, that day came as community members gathered around the sky-blue house-shaped box that sits near the playground at the Isla Vista Children's Park, 810 Camino Del Sur.

Children were busily playing nearby as Miller talked about some of the obstacles they face to accessing books during the summer when school is out.

Getting to the closest library from Isla Vista requires two bus trips and a transfer, Miller said, a journey that can be daunting for parents with young children.

Now, children just have to walk to the park or four other locations of Little Free Libraries placed throughout Isla Vista. 

The Isla Vista Food Co-Op, the Isla Vista Teen Center, the People's Self-Help Housing Storke Apartments and St. Michael's University Church will also be homes to a Little Free Library.

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr, whose district includes Isla Vista, showed up to the event with a handful of children's books her own boys had enjoyed and were willing to contribute to the Little Free Library.

"I think it perfectly fits with what we want for Isla Vista," she said of the project.

Carolyn Shupe of Elks Lodge No. 613 said the organization was able to get a grant for $2,000 through the National Elks Foundation to complete the purchase and installation of the project.

"May this bring this community that has seen so much violence closer together," she said.

In addition to the Isla Vista Youth Projects and Elks Lodge, Isla Vista Recreation and Parks, Isla Vista Food Co-op, United Way, People's Self-Help Housing and Isla Vista Teen Center were also collaborators in the effort.

Goleta Mayor Michael Bennett also chimed in, saying that libraries had been formative in his life.

"I love to read today. For me it brings everything to life," he said.

The new tiny library at the edge of the playground will likely be well-loved by children in the area, and is well stocked with titles like Harry Potter and Berenstain Bears books.

"It may only 15 to 20 books, but it still makes a difference," Bennett said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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