Tri-C Library Senate Committee dedicates Little Free Library
Cuyahoga Community College officials held a brief dedication ceremony outside of the Western Campus in Parma, OH for a Little Free Library, a small public bookcase where members of a community can exchange books of their choosing without cost. A number of visitors also attended as members of the Faculty Senate Library Committee spoke in front of the West Campus theater entrance. Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter was planning to speak at the ceremony, but reportedly could not attend due to illness.
The Senate Library Committee was largely responsible for bringing the Little Free Library to West Campus. “As a committee, we wanted to help the community feel comfortable coming to campus and taking advantage of the things that are here.” says Joe Fell, one of the committee members. According to Fell, the idea initially came during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, when the campus was closed. “We wanted to provide a way for people to come use the campus safely, and this was a good opportunity for that.” he said.
Little Free Libraries Ltd. is a nonprofit organization. It advocates for community book exchanges through book-sharing boxes known as “Little Free Libraries.” The organization has over 150,000 boxes in 120 countries as of April 2023 according to its website, and has resources for instructions on constructing boxes.
According to Pete Jennings, a member of the Senate Library Committee, the bookcase being dedicated was previously at Tri-C’s Eastern Campus in Highland Hills, OH before being donated to the West Campus by John Rasel, an assistant director and librarian at Tri-C’s Eastern Campus. “Despite the name ‘Little Free Libraries,’ for those that are actually installing them it’s not actually free.” explained Jennings during a speech, “So with John being able to provide us with that extra Little Free Library, it really helped expedite this project and saved us a little bit of money.”
Abigail Dohanos, dean of Learning and Engagement at the Western Campus, also spoke at the event. “As a Community college, Tri-C holds fast to our commitment to serving not only our students but the community at large, and this is an excellent example, I think, of how we do that.” she said.
Little Free Libraries have been very crucial to giving communities free access to literature, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. “During the early days of COVID, many of the libraries were closed. That cut off access to books from many communities during that time.” said Dohanos, speaking about city libraries. She claimed the number of Little Free Libraries has reportedly increased by 33 percent since the pandemic. Jennings also commented that the number of Little Free Libraries has grown since 2020.
Jennings took time to thank several officials for their work and support, including Rasel, who attended. He also thanked Dennis Krueger, grounds maintenance supervisor at West Campus, who chose the location for the bookcase and whose crew installed it.
Those attending the event were given the opportunity to donate to books to the Little Free Library as part of the ceremony. “It’s a passion project.” commented Dohanos in a speech praising the Senate Library Committee. “These committee members found something they were interested in, dedicated to, and put their time and effort in and outside of the classroom towards bringing this Little Free Library here for our students and for our community members.” she said.