Rochester Will Soon Be Home to Tri-Town’s Newest Little Free Diverse Library
You’ve probably seen those Little Free Library boxes all over the SouthCoast, built by book lovers who want to share the joy of reading with friends, neighbors and complete strangers, taking the time to construct the wooden boxes and curating a collection of books to make available for free to anyone who wants one.
May 17 is a special day for book lovers, as it is the “birthday” of the Little Free Library movement – and Rochester will soon be the home of the newest Little Free Diverse Library on the SouthCoast.
A Little Free Diverse Library is a LFL that features exclusively books about diversity and inclusion.
The Rochester LFDL will complete the trifecta for the Tri-Town after similar little libraries opened in Marion in 2020 and Mattapoisett in 2021.
They were all put together by the organization Tri-Town Against Racism, whose mission, according to the group’s website, is to “defend against racism within the community by providing education, promoting positive communication, and listening to the voices of those affected. We foster an environment of inclusion and acceptance for all.”
A ribbon-cutting event is planned for June 17 for the next LFDL that will be located at the Joseph H. Plumb Memorial Library on Constitution Way in Rochester.
“It’s going to be in conjunction with our Juneteenth celebration,” said Rhonda Baptiste, Vice President of Tri-Town Against Racism.
The special event is being called “Open Books, Open Minds: A Juneteenth Celebration and Ribbon-Cutting for TTAR’s Third Little Free Diverse Library.”
The concept behind a Little Free Library, according to the Little Free Library website, is to provide “book-sharing boxes (that) are open seven days a week, 24 hours a day and are freely accessible to all, removing barriers to book access.”
Its mission statement specifically mentions providing books to “underserved urban, suburban, rural and Indigenous communities.” One of its main objectives is “championing diverse books.”
“Through our Read in Color program, LFL makes books available representing BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other diverse voices to promote understanding, empathy, and inclusion,” the website states, noting that “LFL collaborates with schools, public libraries, civic organizations, businesses, and other groups to bring Little Free Libraries to their communities.”
TTAR’s first Little Free Diverse Library was installed on the Old Landing Wharf in Marion in November 2020. It was painted by Old Rochester student Alia Cusolito and built by their older brother Dante. It features the Tri-Town Against Racism motto of “Start Where You Live.”
“Welcome to our Little Free Diverse Library,” a sticker on the library’s door reads. “This Little Library is focused on books that promote diversity and anti-racism. Please donate your non-diverse books elsewhere. We hope you found something amazing to read today.”
A second Little Free Diverse Library opened up in Mattapoisett at Ned’s Point in September 2021. It was destroyed by vandals three months later, but rebuilt and went back into service in May 2022.
Due to the vandalism, both Little Free Diverse Libraries sponsored by TTAR are now under video surveillance.
“You are welcome to donate books that include topics and characters that are People of Color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ, because this library is inclusive and we want everyone to live their best life,” reads the message on the Mattapoisett LFDL. “We hope you will take, read and return these books!”
The Little Free Library’s Read in Color program began in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020; the LFL nonprofit is headquartered in St. Paul, the other half of the Twin Cities. According to the LFL website, “more than 200 Little Free Libraries have been established in high-impact areas and 40,000 diverse books have been shared.”