Little Free Libraries are book stands, usually stationed on both public and private properties, aimed toward creating an accessible place for people to exchange books to promote literacy and reading within communities.
Cesar Chavez Park, located on 2720 Barjud Ave. in Pomona, is 10 minutes away from the University of La Verne campus and has been home to a Little Free Library for a little over a year.
Yesenia Miranda Meza, steward for the Little Free Library at Cesar Chavez Park, grew up in the area for her whole life. A council member proposed the idea to build a park when the area was only a dirt field.
Anyone can become a steward of a Little Free Library by following the steps on the Little Free Library website. This is where Yesenia and her father, Jesus Miranda, developed the idea of becoming steward to one and showed up to the meeting to include themselves and their input in the conversation. Miranda helped her design and maintain the little free library when it was added to Cesar Chavez Park.
“We saw it as an opportunity years ago, to make it happen for our community since there are some underprivileged communities that don’t have access to books,” Meza said.
The Latino and Latina Round Table has adopted Cesar Chavez Park informally through their history and active participation in the park. Fabian Pavon, parks and recreation commissioner of Pomona, suggested their involvement with a little free library book drive.
This drive began with the collection of books that were related to ethnic studies.
“The first round was specifically Latinx literature and books that people would not normally have access to and reflective of the stories of Latinx and people of color,” Lina Mira, director of the Latino and Latina Round Table of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valley said.
Today all kinds of books including comic books, textbooks, and even recipe books are available at the little free library as well as other resources to benefit the community.
“We sometimes put nonperishables, snacks and water as well,” Mira said. “Little free libraries are a source of unity and depending on how it is organized they will fulfill a need, such as someone facing food insecurity.”
The maintenance of this little free library is directed by Pavon who shared the struggles that this public library faces and the steps it takes to continue to keep it in good condition for the community.
“It gets vandalized a lot, so I created a volunteer sheet so our volunteers could check on the little free library once a month and make sure that the library is fully stocked, report any damages and on top of that, check up on the park,” Pavon said.
Pavon shares the feedback that the community has expressed through the addition of the free little library at Cesar Chavez Park.
“In communities where they are not used to investments in their neighborhoods, they see that someone cares about the neighborhood and positive engagement,” Pavon said.
Little free libraries are resourceful and something that anyone can enjoy during their visit to the park.
“The fact that you can walk over, grab a book and read it or parents being able to read books to kids right then and there. You have the option to read a book and put it back or take it home and finish it as a bedtime story,” Meza said.
With summer approaching, Mira challenges students to take on different activities such as visiting a park and reading a book.
“Reading expands your mind so much that instead of being on a tablet, go within your own brain and use your imagination,” Mira said. “It’s a good way to dive into a new world.”
For more information on little free libraries visit littlefreelibrary.org.
For more information on the Latino and Latina Roundtable visit their Instagram @latinolatinaroundtable.sgpv.
Yulissa Chavez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.