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Member uses data to identify Little Free Library locations

Vicki Hermansen and Alea Rashid | Mar 29, 2022

South Central Indiana Club  provide children's books

When it comes to book-sharing boxes in communities, Bode Hoover is all in. In high school, his Key Club completed a project to install them in his community — and he recently joined a Kiwanis club that focuses on them.

In fact, the doctoral student at Indiana University is using his data management skills to identify the best locations for a new round of installations by the Kiwanis Club of South Central Indiana in Bloomington.

For members like Hoover, a new Kiwanis partnership is poised to help. Kiwanis International recently partnered with Little Free Library (LFL), a nonprofit organization that aims to have a lending library in every community — with a book for every reader.

By joining forces, Kiwanis and LFL will make it easier to get libraries into communities where they are most needed.

As a member of the Franklin Central High School Key Club in Indianapolis, Indiana, Hoover and his fellow members sought a United Way grant to build and install the libraries in his community.

“We were able to stretch the funds to maximize our impact by getting parents and elementary school students involved,” Hoover says. “Most of the Little Free Libraries were painted by our local elementary school students.”

The Key Club had a book drive, received hundreds of books and stocked the libraries. “It was a fun and rewarding project,” Hoover says.

Hoover hopes to bring his skills and passion for reading to his Kiwanis club. He is using census data to help identify book deserts and the neighborhoods that would benefit.

“I’m researching the best locations to ensure an equitable distribution in the Bloomington area,” he says. “I’m also writing grant proposals to fund the installation of several more in the near future.”

The project could be easily completed by any club, he adds. Developing Little Free Libraries offers a good return on a small investment and makes books accessible to kids. Clubs looking for a single focus to maximize their impact could benefit from working with Little Free Libraries.

“I like the potential for getting the whole community involved,” Hoover says. “I loved books growing up and I'm extremely fortunate that my parents believed reading to children was a fundamental way to improve academic skills.” 

Club is Little Free Library early adopter 

While some Kiwanis clubs and members are just learning about Little Free Library, the Kiwanis Club of South Central Indiana in Bloomington has championed the project for years.

When Vanessa McClary started the club, the book project was one of its first endeavors. “One of the Little Free Library projects was made as an Eagle Scout project, one was purchased as a kit from LFL and assembled by members of our sponsored Indiana University and Ivy Tech Circle K club,” McClary said. The club has been working with Little Free Library book projects for about 16 years.

The South Central Indiana Club and its members provide picture books and chapter books, suitable for all ages. The book sharing boxes are in areas that are accessible to lower-income families, McClary said.

McClary has chaired the project for 16 years, with the help of numerous club members providing books and is thrilled to have insights from Hoover. “His approach using data, and his hope to seek grants to expand the project will bring additional energy to our Little Free Library project,” she said.

Go here for more information about Kiwanis International partnerships.

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