Mental Health Professionals blog

Little Free Library opens at BLOOM

Monday, April 27, 2015

Note: Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. 

Started in 2009 as a front-yard book exchange in a Hudson, Wisc., neighborhood, 25,000 Little Free Libraries now stand as part of a global phenomenon that keeps gaining momentum.

Individuals from Stairways’ Psychiatric Rehabilitation class “Developing Community” recently helped design, configure and decorate a re-purposed newspaper box at BLOOM Collaborative filled with books for neighbors to share.

The Stairways and BLOOM Collaborative library is accessible on the sidewalk outside BLOOM’s property along Holland Street. It is one of 11 Little Free Libraries within the City of Erie.

I was very excited about the idea of introducing the Little Free Library project as part of the Psych Rehab class curriculum. I knew it would be a fun and exciting way for participants to learn skills for greater community involvement and I especially liked the idea that this was a project which they could continue to be a part of once the class was over.

Throughout the class, participants practiced group decision-making and task delegation. They learned about community agencies, and the process that goes into starting and following through with community service projects. This included networking and making connections with members of the community who could provide advice and supplies as well as making considerations for a project which would become part of public space.

The group chose a wellness theme and chose images to represent wellness to decorate the chalkboard paint background. The project helped them to learn more about personal wellness. Visitors to the library will be invited to add their own images of wellness using provided chalk. The final piece is a book adhered to the top which will describe each of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness.

The group’s design is completely interactive and inviting and the end result is very eye catching. The group members are very much looking forward to their work being part of the community and are very proud to be part of project that has such a strong impact. Overall, the skills that participants practiced in this group contributed to their sense of self-determination and empowerment.

Michelle Jaggi, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Specialist

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