Hope Fountain was concerned. Hope, a Communications Specialist for Random Acts, had learned that more than 1,600 books were challenged or banned in 2021. Nearly half of those books involved underrepresented groups, including BlPOC and LBGTQIA+ individuals.
Some librarians feel threatened and remove books from shelves just to avoid problems. This greatly impacted Hope. “As someone who loves reading,” she says, “this is troubling, to say the least.” In honor of Banned Books Week, which takes place in the United States in October each year, Hope jumped into action.
The Ripple Effect
Hope wanted to push back against bans by making more books accessible to everyone. She decided to donate books to Little Free Libraries around her home in Cincinnati, Ohio. Little Free Libraries are small cabinets full of books that are free for the taking. Anyone can create a Little Free Library, and they pop up everywhere, including parks, community centers, churches, businesses, and even front yards. Some Little Free Libraries allow users to borrow and return books. Others allow users to keep a book if they donate a book in return.
Hope scoured local warehouses and independent bookstores to find books suitable for readers of all ages and interests. As she went along, she became more and more excited by the ripple effect her project generated. This started with Hope’s sister Shell, who accompanied her on her book gathering quest.
Then, bookstore staff who assisted Hope expressed how glad they were at her act of kindness. At one shop, Hope promptly received an additional discount when the staff learned what her purchases were for. An enthusiastic clerk at another store loved Hope’s project, agreeing that “books are supposed to be out in the community.”
Small but Mighty
Hope was able to locate 15 little free libraries and stock them with dozens of books. Some of the little libraries were almost empty when Hope arrived. She saw this as evidence that people are eager to have books in their lives. This is exactly the outcome Hope was trying to promote, especially for underrepresented groups.
Hope’s optimism is built right into her name. She believes that even something as small as Little Free Libraries can have a mighty impact, and she plans to keep working against the “chilling effects” of book bans. “The goal,“ Hope explains, “is to increase the odds that people, especially kids, will find themselves in the pages.”
Local Acts Add Up to Global Good
If you would like to explore ways to support the struggle against book bans, look into the information and resources provided by such organizations as PEN and the American Library Association. You can also explore your own community for Little Free Libraries. Visit the Little Free Library website for more ideas.
Do you have an idea for an act of kindness in your own community? Random Acts can help with that! Contact your local Random Acts Regional Representative for information on Sponsored Acts or any other help you need to turn your idea into a reality.