Reading, whether it’s for a class or for leisure, has no limits. Anyone can pick up a book in any genre of their choosing and start reading. To promote reading and literacy Sigma Tau Delta, the English Department’s honor society, installed two miniature libraries on campus.
The concept of mini libraries was created by the nonprofit organization Little Free Library, with a “take a book, return a book” exchange. The mission of the organization is to inspire a “love of reading, builds community and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges.” As of 2016 there are approximately 50,000 mini libraries between the entirety of the U.S. and over 70 countries around the world.
Mini libraries have been previously seen in Gregory Hall in the main lobby and now can be found in University Commons (UC) outside the bathrooms on the first floor.
Sigma Tau Delta President James Lillin, a senior acting, English and women’s and gender studies major, commented that although there are more people who come through UC daily, it’s not in the most ideal location for a Little Free Library.
“One thing we decided to do this semester as a group is to find a couple new places for some libraries so they can get used,” Lillin said. The two libraries Sigma Tau Delta installed can be found outside Fenton Hall at the stop sign as well as inside the lobby of Fenton. [Editor’s Note: Lillin is a Staff Writer for The Leader.]
The process of getting the libraries installed on campus happened quickly with the help of English professor Ann Siegle Drege and President Virgina Horvath. Lillin commented that Horvath was a member of Sigma Tau Delta and, with her connection to the organization, was able to donate a mini library she already owned and order a second, much larger library to benefit the campus.
“[Horvath] was completely on board with saying, ‘I already have one Little Free Library, but not only that, I will go a step further and donate a larger Little Free Library,’” Lillin said. With the purchase of the larger mini library came a surprise of $100 worth of books already inside to start off with.
Anthony Licata, a senior English major, credits the 21 East Main Literary Agency as a main contributor in getting the libraries started after he and another STD member bought the initial books for the libraries there. 21 East then donated more books to help promote the new installation.
Stephine Hunt, a second year English graduate student, stressed the importance of literacy in Fredonia and Dunkirk communities with having these libraries on campus.
“Knowing that Dunkirk has a really, really low literacy rate and knowing that we’re so close to Dunkirk … to us it’s important not to immediately influence the literacy rate [but] to at least create that awareness through buying books from 21 East to put in there,” said Hunt.
Lillin, Hunt, Licata and Veronica Arce, a junior English major, not only stressed the importance of literacy within Dunkirk and Fredonia communities but also how important it is for children to start reading as early as possible.
“It develops empathy and it allows us to develop an imagination as young children because a lot of times we need these liberal arts to be able to … know what other people are going through. Because if you read a book and somebody is going through [a] tragic moment you start to develop [an] understanding if you run into somebody in real life who’s going through [that] moment, and you’ll know how to help them or possibly have more of an understanding,” Arce said.
Members of Sigma Tau Delta hope that these mini library installations will generate the growth of more libraries on campus and interest throughout the campus and community.