Miami-Dade County

Little Free Library in El Portal: big idea in a small space

The Little Free Library promotes literacy and encourages the community to read more. The effort is a box full of books where anyone can stop by for a read.
The Little Free Library promotes literacy and encourages the community to read more. The effort is a box full of books where anyone can stop by for a read. For the Miami Herald

While searching for new methods of education, El Portal mayor Claudia Cubillos encountered a unique form of learning that’s miniature but effective.

El Portal unveiled the Little Free Library, a small school house filled with books, on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, in an effort to promote literacy and to encourage the community to read more. The Little Free Library is in front of Village Hall, 500 NE 87 St.

“It is resident-generated ideas like this one that foster a greater sense of community and further enhances camaraderie amongst all our neighbors,” wrote Cubillos, who is also owner of Ms. Claudia’s Village Academy, housed in the village.

The Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone can stop by and pick up a book or two and bring it back to share. It will function year round. Anyone can provide the books.

“To operate a Little Free Library, one person serves as a volunteer steward who maintains and monitors the box for inappropriate materials,” she said. “Its operation is based on the honor system — it’s working in over a thousand small towns throughout the world — so not only will it work here, but I believe it will further build a sense of community in El Portal.”

The concept was created by Wisconsin’s Todd Bol in 2009 who built a miniature one-room schoolhouse in honor of his mother. He mounted it on a post, filled it with books, and placed it in his front yard with a sign that read “Free Books.”

The installation is about $100, but the funding will come from the village’s public affair’s budget.

The actual Little Free Library was donated as was the stylish painting that features peacocks. The artwork’s theme is in keeping with El Portal’s status as a state bird sanctuary.

Artist Nicole Soden volunteered to help design the village’s Little Free Library with the help of eighth-grader Paula Carrizo.

“The protect is important to me because it fosters a love of reading, the action of gifting and raise awareness of respecting communal property as it engages the community,” Soden said. “Knowledge is a power that should always be free.”

The library will hold about 30 books and children’s books are encouraged, but it is for all of ages. This will be the first Little Free Library in the county, Cubillos said.

For more information, visit http://littlefreelibrary.org/.

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