Take a Book, Leave a Book – Little Free Libraries™ Now in front of Chiricahua locations throughout Cochise County
DOUGLAS, AZ (February 1, 2019) – When visiting Chiricahua Community Health Centers in Douglas, Sierra Vista, Benson or at the Winchester Heights Community Center, you may notice a small box on a post out front of the location. This is a Little Free Library™, a book exchange box meant to foster literacy and access to books among the visitors of Chiricahua’s locations. Staff at Chiricahua hope the surrounding community will embrace the “Little Free Libraries” at their locations by taking a book to read and leaving one for someone else to enjoy, free of charge. Chiricahua is asking for the community’s help with this movement by requesting book donations that can be used to stock these boxes throughout the county.
Chiricahua’s goal of bringing Little Free Libraries™ to the communities they serve is to promote literacy and to foster a love of reading by improving access to books for free. Susan Lange, Community Programs Director at Chiricahua said, “Because we serve a large pediatric population in Cochise County, we recognize that early literacy is key to success in school. People with more education tend to live longer and be healthier throughout their lives.”
According to the Little Free Library™ website, “children growing up without books are on average three years behind children in homes with books, even when controlled for other key factors.” Additionally, improving access to books has an impact on the reading achievement in children, while “61% of low-income families do not have any age-appropriate books for the children in their home.”
Chiricahua’s Little Free Libraries™ were made possible with a grant from the National Science Foundation. As a part of the grant, Chiricahua maintenance staff held a workshop for Douglas teens, who helped to construct the six Little Free Libraries ™. This hands-on construction engineering lesson for teens fostered interest in STEM fields for the students involved.
Sam Nieblas, Facilities and Maintenance Manager at Chiricahua said, “This was a very exciting things for us to do. We taught the kids how to read the blue prints, measure, and then construct the boxes. The students learned basic construction skills that will be useful to them throughout their lives. My staff loved seeing the glow in the student’s eyes when they were getting the hands-on experience.”
Nieblas also stated staff took the time to have a conversation with students about possible career paths involving the skills learned that day. He said, “We talked to the kids about what type of earning potential they would have working in a STEM field versus earning minimum wage throughout their lives. I wanted to educate the students that its very important to understand that the decisions they make now will affect them in the future.”
Lange said, “The students involved got to have their names on the boxes and they are proud and excited to see their work being used in their own community.”
Community members are encouraged to visit one of Chiricahua’s Little Free Libraries™ and take a book and leave a book for others to enjoy. Chiricahua is seeking book donations to get all libraries stocked and off to a good start. Book donations can be brought to any location and placed right into the Little Free Library™.
Chiricahua’s Little Free Library™ Locations:
Early Childhood Center of Excellence 1151 16th Ave. Douglas, AZ
Pediatric Center of Excellence 815 15th St. Douglas, AZ
Jennifer ‘Ginger’ Ryan Adult Center 1100 F Avenue Douglas, AZ
Sierra Vista Family Health Center 155 Calle Portal Sierra Vista, AZ
Benson Family Health Center 335 S. Ocotillo Ave. Benson, AZ
Winchester Heights Community Center 5815 W. Cameron Dr. Willcox, AZ
Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc. is a mission-driven Federally Qualified Health Center and is a tax exempt not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. It was founded as a grassroots community effort in 1996 as makeshift clinic in Elfrida’s small community center and has since grown to be the largest primary care organization in southeastern Arizona. Chiricahua Community Health Centers currently has ten locations in Benson, Bisbee, Douglas, Elfrida and Sierra Vista and five mobile units that serve greater Cochise County.