Literacy Spotlight: Little Free Laundromat Libraries

Sep 17, 2020
Little Free Laundromat Books

As Phi Kappa Phi continues its celebration of National Literacy Month, let's take a closer look at another 2020 Literacy Grant recipient – Little Free Laundromat Libraries for Southwestern PA.

Adults and children using laundromat services often live in low-income areas with a lack of resources for food, clothing and books. Schools and libraries in these areas are often underfunded, further limiting access. Project partners Maria Barefoot and Sara Parme, at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, sought to address the opportunity gaps in the community by placing free books for a variety of ages in laundromat facilities.

Because patrons of laundromats tend to visit regularly and spend hours waiting, their accompanying children are often left with time on their hands. Using the laundromats as a point of distribution for free books to these families seemed ideal.

Through book donations and purchases of high-quality used books, the Little Free Laundromat Libraries throughout the Johnstown and Monroeville areas in Pennsylvania will be stocked with everything from early readers and children's classics to young adult and popular titles for all ages. Once established inside the laundromats, plaques will provide instructions letting customers know that the books are free for the taking, and stickers inside the books will show the support from Phi Kappa Phi.

After earning the Literacy Grant, Barefoot shared, "As graduate students and librarians, we were so grateful to Phi Kappa Phi for giving us the funding to start our little free laundromat library initiative.  We had been planning to set up our little free laundromat libraries, but lacked the funds needed to get started. This grant has allowed us to jump-start our literacy efforts in our local communities."

Click here to learn more about our Literacy Grants, and find out how you can apply.

Photos provided by Maria Barefoot and Sara Parme – Stickers showing support from a Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grant are being placed inside donated books which will stock the Little Free Laundromat Libraries in Pennsylvania.