ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque honored two nonprofit groups and one local girl scout as the One Albuquerque Award winners for the month of March. The Albuquerque Woodworkers Association, Community Renovation Empowering Women (CREW) and Girl Scout Bryna Kelley worked to provide Little Free Libraries around the city and state.
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Last summer, the City of Albuquerque Office of Civic Engagement partnered with the national Little Free Library program to give community members an opportunity to share a book and donate a book. The Albuquerque Woodworkers Association constructed the libraries, CREW installed them and Kelley assisted in installing some of them in Albuquerque and in rural areas around the state.
John Henderson of the Woodworkers Association brought the idea to the organization and enlisted the help of its members. Henderson worked with Jerry Van Slambrook to design the 21 libraries and received the necessary funding for supplies from the Albuquerque city council. “It was particularly inspiring in the pandemic because so many of the libraries were closed and kids were out of school. You could just see this kind of thing catching on more where kids could go out and get a book, and adults as well, it’s not restricted to just children’s books,” Van Slambrook said.
Bryna Kelley, a senior at Cottonwood Classical and New Mexico Girl Scout, had gotten her Gold Award project approved and started before she had even heard about the city’s efforts. Kelley installed seven libraries around New Mexico in locations like the South Valley, Grants and Taos. She reached out to communities through the Next Door app and received many book donations from community members.
Kelley said this project allowed her to learn more about her state and the communities that make up New Mexico. “I think for me, it was amazing seeing my community and just the New Mexico community as a whole come together in this,” Kelley said. “Seeing that come together was super cool, especially in a time when so many people are really separated.”
Kelley said while her portion of the project is done, it is only the beginning for the community to begin sharing their own books. “The beauty of the Little Free Libraries and this project, and this cause overall, is that it’s a way for the community to get involved. In donating books to Little Free Libraries, and building them, it really is a sustainable project and it’s a project that doesn’t really end with the city or end with me,” Kelley said.
Most of the libraries have been dispersed and installed around the city. For more information on locations visit littlefreelibrary.org/abq.