This past weekend kicked off another installment of the WHSAD and H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths Little Free Library project. WHSAD students and staff, H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths Co-founder and Executive Director, Ms. Heather Butts, and local representatives gathered to construct the libraries which will find homes in various communities throughout our city. The goal for each library is to inspire heightened levels of literacy and community solidarity as the “take a book, leave a book” grassroots philosophy rests on local residents’ involvement.
The builds had everyone working together with the library kits, assembling the wooden pieces with glue, screws, and power tools. After construction, decorating commenced, allowing each group to illustrate creativity in their unique designs. In true WHSAD spirit, the work continued during the week, as students from M.S. 577 and Williamsburg Prep pitched in and embodied what the Little Free Library spirit is all about: community.
We will surely have more information as these libraries make their ways out into the world and bring lights of literacy to different areas of New York City.
Below are interviews student reporter, Alexander Diaz, conducted with some of the stakeholders of the event as well as some takeaways from students who participated in the events.
Heather Butts, H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths Co-founder and Executive Director
Alex- First off, is there anyone here that couldn’t make it today that is involved with the Little Free Library?
Heather Butts- So we were fortunate we had a board member from the Little Free Library, we had some healthy youth, we had some elected officials and elected officials that came here. So we were very happy to have them in attendance and of course were thrilled to have all of the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design staff and students that were able to make this day so special.
Alex- What do you think the future of the Little Free Library will be like?
Heather Butts- I think it’s about unity, and it’s about literacy and it’s about health and so by having these in the various neighborhoods. We’ll be able to accomplish all of that.
Alex- Alright, any further statements?
Heather Butts- Thank you very much to Williamsburg for Architecture and Design and for always being a marvelous supporter and partner. Thank you to Little Free Library for being such a good contributor to these and other projects that we do and to the elected officials in Brooklyn, we say “Looking forward to doing more of this!”
Alex- Do you have any co-workers that are here?
Heather Butts- Genine Flores is there and she is the first student of healthy youth, so if you want to talk to her you could.
Janine Flores, Doctorate Student at Columbia University School of Nursing and alum of H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths
Alex- So what do you have to say for today, to the students and everyone else that helped today?
Janine Flores- We had fun and I hope we have more events like this. Everyone is pretty creative and I had fun. I didn’t know I was going to be here this Saturday morning. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday and to see all the new students who might want to be at the school. I think this school has a lot to offer.
Alex- I asked this question to Ms. Butts, but what do you think the future of Little Free Library would look like?
Janine Flores– Oh, I hope we have more events like this. I hope to see more Little Free Libraries all over New York City!
Alex- So the plan is to have a bunch of Little Free Libraries around the city?
Janine Flores- Yeah that’s the plan, to have them all over New York, so everyone has access to colorful books.
Alex- Alright, thank you for your time!
Hannah Moore, Board Member, Little Free Library
Alex- So what would your role be in the Little Free Library Program?
Ms. Moore- So I’m on the Board of Little Free Library. I help advocate for the program. I help fundraise for the program. I help raise awareness and help put new Free Little Libraries in places and help the organization grow and reach its goals.
Alex- So how did this project come to be?
Mrs. Moore- Well, Heather, who I know you already met, is an amazing Little Free Library rep here in New York. She’s been building libraries all throughout the city in different communities, and I really just came down to support her today.
Alex- I’ve asked both Heather and Janine this, but what is the future of the Little Free Library, in 5-10 years?
Mrs. Moore- Yeah, so Little Free Library’s goal is to put a Little Free Library book exchange box in every community that is under resourced for books. Right? We call them “book deserts’ ‘ or places that don’t have enough books. And so in the next few years, our goal is to do that throughout the entire country. To put a box in every under-resourced book community.
Alex- Alright, any additional comments?
Mrs. Moore- No! It’s been great to be here, it’s really been fun and I brought my son and that was a big treat for me obviously. So thanks for having him.
Alex- Yeah, I also had a lot of fun painting!
Mrs. Moore- It looks great!
Alex- We didn’t get enough time to finish painting, but we’ll finish soon.
Mrs. Moore- I’m sure you’ll finish during next week.
Alex- Do you know where these Little Free Libraries will be placed at?
Mrs. Moore- I think Heather said some of these were going to public housing, NYCHA housing, some are going to maybe in front of a police station. I think she hopes to put one in a shelter somewhere in the Brooklyn Community and a couple of other locations. I think there’s 9 all together right?
Alex- Yes, and thank you very much for your time!
Mrs. Moore- Thank you and it was nice meeting you!
Mr. Codio, Senior Architecture Teacher
Alex- How do you feel about the Little Free Library event happening today?
Mr. Codio – I think it was an amazing and phenomenal event for the school to come together with outside organizations and H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths, as well as community parents coming in and students from the community from different middle schools, come in to support and help us bring awareness to the literacy issues in New York City. And be able to have the opportunity to build together and design/paint together. Every time this happens, it shows us how we as a community have different ways to come together. Even if its not just for a regular event, but something special. Such as building something to show awareness.
Alex- Any additional staments?
Mr.Codio- I look forward to more of these programs, especially to spread out throughout the area. Due to the fact that literacy is an issue and by doing these little functions, these little programs where we get to build as well as donate to different communities and parks to show awareness to how important it is to you to start reading at an early age. So that when you do take your exams, but not even, just be able to learn how to read. It goes a long way, and for us to bring a community together, to show that, it goes a long way.
Alex- Alright, well, thank you for the statements!
Mr. Codio- You’re welcome.
Here are a couple of students experiences at the event:
WHSAD Senior, Marc Joseph
On Saturday I attended the Little Free Library Build Project where I mentored younger children on how to build these structures. They were happy to be part of this building project as they were able to work with tools and instructions to put something together. For most, this was the first time experiencing working with their hands to build something that would impact their community. Families who attended WHSAD’s open house that morning were also interested in the project, so to get them a feel of what our school is about we invited them to join us in building and decorating the libraries. It was a great experience working to better our community and help give more children access to books to help further their education.
WHSAD Sophomore, George Pinto
This was not the first Little Free Library event I’ve attended with WHSAD. Back in June I participated in the building of Little Free Libraries with the NYPD at Brooklyn Borough Hall. This time was a little different, because I was more experienced, and got to paint too. Painting was a lot of fun, because I could really put some creativity into it, and it was so cool seeing the designs other people came up with. It felt really great to make a difference, and contribute to the community, and seeing how many other people were also interested in doing so was pretty inspiring.