KDL Free Library: A Community Builder

When the Cowley family put up their little library a year ago, the world was shutting down due to COVID 19. Painting the library and putting it up in their front yard was a fun lockdown project. Melissa Cowley said they have a lot of avid readers in their neighborhood who enjoyed having access to new books for free when it wasn't possible to visit traditional libraries.

"When we finished putting the library up we hosted a socially distanced ribbon-cutting ceremony with lots of our neighbors," Melissa said. "This was at a time when most people were in full lock down and hadn't interacted in person with people outside their households, so it was especially meaningful at a time when we were all so isolated."

Not only was the world changing at that time, but so was the Cowley family. They had just found out that they were expecting another child. They are now a family of five with three sons. Reflecting on their little library makes Melissa think about the early stages of her pregnancy and their family expanding.

Melissa has made at least three new friends by chatting with people who are collecting or dropping off books. One time a Shipt shopper delivered groceries to the neighborhood and then returned with a supply of book donations. Her kids love it when someone stops to look at the book selection. They usually run to the door and thank them for visiting their library.

"Our little library means a lot to us and makes our neighborhood feel even more like a community," Melissa said. "This is important to us, as we moved to Grand Rapids from London, England four years ago."

Before becoming a stay-at-home mother, Melissa was a specialist math teacher in elementary schools. She is self-publishing a book about teaching math to little kids through everyday activities. She hopes to have copies of her book available in her little library.

Melissa also enjoys reading new books found in the library located in her front yard.

"One of the best books I have ever read turned up in our library, so I'm very grateful for that."

Kent District Library offers several Free Libraries throughout our service area. These mini-libraries typically house around 40 books each, including youth, teen and adult fiction and nonfiction materials. People are encouraged to take a book and leave a book.