by Nora Polaski, ’17
This past semester, Nora Polaski, ’17 conducted an Honors Term project designed to elevate literacy within the greater Beloit community. Target outcomes of the project? Identifying community partners willing to build, host and install “Little” Little Free Libraries around the greater Beloit community.
Throughout her Honors Term, she collaborated with Stateline Family Services, Community Action of Rock and Walworth County’s Fresh Start, Beloit College’s Campus and Community Outreach Center, and the Beloit Public Library.
The last few months have flown by, and just as the semester has come to a close I feel like the “Little” Little Free Libraries project is finally starting to pick up. I hope to continue working on this project with Family Services and seeing it through. It was awesome to be a part of the beginning steps of the project, and I hope I have made a positive impact that will move forward.
Through my honors term I worked very closely with Alyssa Whitney, the Program Development Director at Family Services. We had weekly meetings, where we discussed steps that the project was making, and what responsibilities I was carrying out during the project.
One of the most important partners who helped us with this project was Community Action. Under the leadership of Construction Trainer Travis Shipley, and in coordination with the College’s Campus Community Outreach Center, Community Action’s Fresh Start students handcrafted three new libraries this spring. As Community Action spokesperson Mara Dewitz notes, “building the libraries also enabled our students to earn credit towards their construction certification and to learn new skills, as well as practicing their woodworking skills.”
As of right now, we have sixteen committed hosts. This means there will be an additional sixteen places for children in Beloit to get books and become better readers!
Of these hosts, two Beloit College campus partners will continue to be involved! Women’s Lacrosse and Theta Pi Gamma have both agreed to be hosts for one year. As head Lacrosse coach Sammi Reiter explained, “We decided to sponsor a little free library because we wanted to do more for the community around us. We also love that a Beloit Alumnus (Rick Brooks, ’69) created this and wanted to carry on his vision.” In late April Theta and Women’s Lacrosse received the houses from Community Action and painted/decorated them.
I have had an absolutely wonderful time with Alyssa, Family Services, and this project. I can only hope to continue working with them, and hope to see the effects of these libraries for children in Beloit. Thank you to Beloit College and the Dean’s Office for giving me this amazing opportunity!