Passion projects are so important for mental health and wellness. My Little Free Library project took over our garage and front yard for almost an entire year. Today, I'm excited to share that I was awarded the Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement in recognition of all my hard work spreading books to my community.
Kristine Dowhan started a Little Free Library made from a telephone booth at her home when the pandemic closed public libraries in her St. Petersburg community. But she didn’t stop there. Kristine has also placed 236 Little Free Libraries made from upcycled Tampa Bay Times newsstands!
Stewarding these newsstands-turned-libraries is a group effort. Kristine has built up an impressive network of more than 260 local volunteers in St. Petersburg. Through this network, more than 200,000 books have been freely shared throughout the Tampa Bay community.
“My project was my pandemic lifeline, and there were points where it was the only thing holding me together and keeping me sane,” said Kristine. “So many of my stewards feel the same about their libraries. I’ve made so many new friends and acquaintances through the project, and the opportunities to grow as an individual and as a leader have been endless.”
To date, we have been able to share over 200,000 books entirely for free with the community. I look forward to continuing to make an impact.
Over the last few months, I've come to understand that this project was born out of a scarcity mindset. Growing up, I usually bought books I loved after having already read them from the library. I lost all access to libraries and access to new books (as did everyone at the beginning of the pandemic, but of course safety is more important), and so I kept trying to find books to replace the library access lost and to fill the void made prominent by more time at home to read. I had piles of books around the house waiting to be read over the last year, while I continued to acquire more, and I kept cycling through and passing on without even reading because there were just so many. Piles and piles of books, in the hundreds.
This weekend, in an effort to reclaim my space and my sanity, I passed on every single book from my "To Be Read" bookshelf into our libraries and added every book I still wanted to read into my Goodreads list. I will get them from the public library when I'm ready for them. A couple made it to my nightstand, and I intend to read them within the next few weeks. If I don't, I will pass those on, too. I can always find them later, even if it ends up costing money to buy them for my Kindle. I feel lighter, like the world is calmer.
In the meantime, the project continues on!