Gannon University's Erie-GAINS Initiative Sponsors a Series of Summer Picnics for Its Little Free Libraries Project

Posted: July 29, 2013

"A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them."

― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid

The notable children's books author may not have had them in mind, but the quote above certainly applies to the half-dozen Little Free Libraries designed and constructed by Gannon University engineering students and placed in neighborhoods around Erie.

And now to celebrate the installation of the libraries, Gannon's Erie-GAINS (Gannon Alliances to Improve Neighborhood Sustainability) initiative is helping neighborhood residents get acquainted with the Libraries at a series of picnics.

The first three in a series of six picnics, which are funded by a grant from the Erie Community Foundation, was held  at HANDS/Villa Apartments, the St. Benedict Education Center and the Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park.  At the picnics, neighborhood families are invited to learn about this project, get a book, enjoy some food and listen to a special guest "mystery reader."

Little Free Libraries resemble oversized birdhouses and are a type of community book exchange. Passersby or anyone can take a book, read it, and return it at their convenience. There is no charge to borrow books, and anyone may contribute books on their own.

Each Little Free Library is designed to hold at least two-dozen books. The books for Gannon's Little Free Libraries have been donated by the University's Nash Library in an effort to promote literacy and a love of reading.

Gannon's Little Free Libraries have been designed and constructed by the students in the first-year seminar of Karinna Vernaza, Ph.D., associate professor, mechanical engineering, in keeping with Gannon's mission of service, volunteerism, and civic engagement.

The Little Free Library movement originated in Wisconsin in 2009 as an outgrowth of a nonprofit organization, Wisconsin Partners for SustainAbility. The organization's mission is to create more than 2,510 Little Free Libraries - more libraries than Andrew Carnegie endowed - around the world.

The majority of the sites are within Gannon's Erie-GAINS neighborhood. The Erie-GAINS program represents a comprehensive effort by Gannon University to stimulate positive change and promote the viability and sustainability of downtown Erie and neighborhoods surrounding the campus.