All photos courtesy of Kids Read Salt Lake
A new program in Salt Lake County, Kids Read, is inviting ambassadors to sign up to host tiny libraries for elementary-aged kids in their yards. Lynda Brown, President of the program, started this program to address a gap in book access for elementary school kids in neighborhoods with Title I schools.
Kids Read Salt Lake provides a fully built small library to be hosted in people’s yards. Prior to adding the library to the yard, the location is evaluated for safety, ensuring it is in a good path for kids walking to and from nearby schools, and the host’s interest level. If the located is chosen, Kids Read will deliver and secure the library in the agreed upon location, and the host becomes an “ambassador.” The first library was established in November 2021 with support from the Rotary Club of Murray. As of this writing, there are 13 established libraries, with 12 more underway.
Brown began the program because she recognized a gap of book access for students in specific elementary schools across Salt Lake County, known as Title I schools. Title I indicates that many of the students that the school serves are at or below the poverty level. In many neighborhoods that have Title I schools, kids may not have access to a traditional library due to a variety of challenges, including inability for the parents to take their kids to the library during their operating hours, low walkability, etc. Brown’s goal is to establish two libraries for each of the county’s 53 Title I schools, totaling 106 libraries in those neighborhoods.
The program supplies each library with an initial set of books evaluated and approved by education professionals. Approved books are identified with a stamp. The kids are asked to return books as they complete them to ensure there are enough books for everyone.
The libraries’ ambassadors help ensure that access continues to be safe and easy, there are enough books, and the books are in a good condition, and they contact the program if more books are needed. The ambassadors also provide additional insight into the community, helping the program determine if other types of books may be helpful, such as books in different languages prevalent in the neighborhood.