New Initiatives Grant Final Report

“Little Embedded Libraries”

Please provide a brief narrative explaining your project and its outcomes.

Project Activities: This project was meant to bring together the concept of little libraries and digital forms of information in a community setting. We built 4 little libraries, 2 solar power systems and installed them in 4 quadrants of a rural/suburban town. Most importantly we began a collaboration between the school district, local entities and Town and State government to provide books and digital information at specific locations.

Results: So far our results are small. We have created a collaboration among community members to provide books and information.

Accomplishments: This little library project has begun discussions about the local history of LaFayette and the rich local historical resources we have. As the 200th Anniversary of the Town approaches, the town hopes these little libraries will help spread information and pride in the town’s resources and history by providing information digitally and print materials.

Obstacles: The routers themselves have been the biggest obstacle. Currently we have them and locations to power them. 2 libraries will be using solar panels for power and the other 2 will have routers that plug in inside a nearby building. It was more cost effective to not use solar panels at all the sites and to only use them at the fishing hole and cemetery. Their installation will happen in the next week or 2.

The routers needed to have their own website created and installed. This is an ongoing project with students in school. Our district does not have a computer programming or web design class and that has caused a slow down in the roll out of the onsite digital information, but has created a great opportunity for students interested in learning. In the meanwhile, there will be a google website and a QR code for people to connect to for information related to each little library.

Originally the plan was to use something called a library box. That was no longer supported by its creator, so I found another similar project called Village Teleco that had a system for installing routers with opensource and free digital resources. This then needed to be tweaked. The routers use Open WRT and that had to be learned and finding someone to consult to make it work. Currently the operating system is installed and is awaiting the website. I happen to have a friend that knows Open WRT and has donated time to helping set that up.

COVID did make it hard to include students. Once most students were back in school they could be part of the conversation but only remotely because there was no afterschool. This year we should be able to really have student led management of the little libraries.

What is the most remarkable accomplishment or finding of your project?

Most remarkable has been the number of interested groups in this project. From the rural cemetery, to the DEC, to the scouts and local residents who love town history, it has been fantastic to foster relationships with these groups and hopefully get them more involved in our schools. There is a well of knowledge from the older people in this community that I hope to connect with the young people in our schools so we do not lose it and maybe even capture it digital to share.

Please provide a brief summary of your evaluation activities and/or results, if available.

We have 3 installed libraries, one on the way to installation and approval to put a little library on the Onondaga Nation. Our plan is for the student council to monitor the boxes and use based on the books put in and gone and use of the routers/website.

Jennifer McDonald

School Librarian, Grimshaw Elementary – LaFayette Central School District

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