The Little Free Libraries program in Revere is off and running in 17 different locations in the city.
Mayor Brian Arrigo joined Project Manager Elle Baker and some of the key contributors to the program during a ceremony held at Gibson Park.
Revere residents are able to obtain free books from the colorful boxes that are situated mostly at parks but also at other sites such as the American Legion on Broadway and the Prospect House on Reservoir Avenue.
The idea is for residents of all ages to share books with their friends and neighbors by taking a book or leaving one for someone to find.
Baker said the project began in October when Margo Johnson and Kathleen Heiser, president of the Beachmont Improvement Committee, approached her about launching a citywide Little Free Libraries program.
“The first two libraries were installed in the Shirley Avenue area [by Rachid and Kristen Janjar] and that was their inspiration to bring it citywide,” said Baker. “It was with Margo and Kathleen’s idea and drive that we were able to all work together. We applied for some funding through the Revere Cultural Council and luckily we were awarded the funds.”
Interestingly Baker’s daughter, Victoria, was the artist for the Gibson Park book box.
Mayor Arrigo said it has been “incredible” to watch the process go from idea to installation.
“To watch everyone take their time and energy to make these Little Libraries go from blank slates to beautiful pieces of artwork – I’m thankful to the people who took the time and effort to do the work and make these a reality,” said Arrigo.
Arrigo thanked the program’s key contributors, saying that “projects like the Little Libraries epitomize the work that people do every day to make the city a better place.”
The mayor also credited Elle Baker for spearheading the effort on behalf of the city. “Elle has been tremendous in finding great ideas and then making sure the ideas move forward and get done. This park [Gibson Park renovations] is one small thing that Elle has done. She’s made such an imprint in the city in our green spaces and things like the Little Libraries.”
Heiser noted the important contribution of Margo Johnson in moving the idea forward and collaborating with Elle Baker on writing the successful grant application.
Heiser said that her son, Charlie Benjamin, and his friend, Ray Crimmins, built ten of the boxes. Heiser and School Committee member Carol Tye donated the five additional boxes.
Heiser also lauded Mayor Arrigo, who “was 100 percent behind the Little Free Library Project and made space available at City Hall to collect and stockpile donated books.”
Margo Johnson said simply, “It’s an honor to be part of the Little Free Library project. I went to see Elle and she believed in me, took it to the city, and the city made it happen.”
Kristen Janjar and her daughter, Nora Janjar attended the ceremony. Nora painted the book box that is located at the Susan B. Anthony school complex. Kristen said she was excited to see the program expand citywide.
“We built it and installed the first Little Library at Sandler Square and the second one on Shirley Avenue and it’s been going really well ever since,” said Kristen. “And now they’re putting in 15 more [libraries] and it’s exciting. We started something new.”