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Hoboken is Getting a Little Free Library — Here’s More About It

Moms coming together for a common purpose can truly change the community. A group of local women joined forces after a question was posed by Hoboken resident, Leah Mermelstein in a Hoboken Moms Facebook group. “How can we best support our community so that all children and adolescents have easy access to high-quality, diverse books?” Once this inquiry lived within the Facebook community, a group of six more women knew they wanted to do something. We had a chance to connect with Leah to learn more about the birth of Hoboken’s Little Free Libraries.

little free library hoboken

{Photo credit: @hobokenlfl}

About Leah

Leah is a Hoboken resident and single mom by choice. Professionally, she is a highly qualified literacy consultant who works closely with school districts and educational organizations helping them to develop and deliver quality and cohesive reading and writing instruction. She holds a master’s degree in Cultural Diversity and Curriculum Reform and has published four books with a fifth on the way in May surrounding the topics of writing and education. Being a literacy professional by day, Leah knows the importance of reading outside of what is done in the classroom. 

Founding Little Free Library

little free library hoboken

{Photo credit: @hobokenlfl}

Research is pretty clear. Independent reading outside of school is a strong indicator of school and reading success,” shares Leah. Countless professional studies have been done on this topic including studies by the National Education Association, Scholastic and more. All studies point to the fact that independent reading, done in addition to what is assigned in the classroom, contributes to improved vocabulary, increased learning engagement, increased desire to learn other topics, and more.

However, Leah shares that concerns come up when the conversation shifts toward access to reading material. “The problem is that not all children have easy access to books. If you don’t have easy access to books, you are less likely to read outside of school hours.

Read More: A Guide to Bookstores in Hoboken + Jersey City

Making books more accessible is the goal of Leah and the other moms involved in the Little Free Library initiative. When the original question was asked, fellow group members Shana Lee and Ellen Dillon suggested Little Free Library.org. Little Free Library.org is a non-profit organization focused on building community through access to books.

The organization’s site shares that more than 30 million Americans cannot write or read above a third-grade level simply because these individuals have not had regular access to books. In fact, two out of three children living in poverty have no books to call their own. 

little free library

{Photo credit: @hobokenlfl}

The mission of Little Free Library.org seemed to match perfectly with what Leah was in search of. After seeing the information shared, the original group grew to seven members total—all moms who have an interest in improving access to diverse reading material and are active community members serving in various capacities ranging from City Council Members to tutors, teachers, and communication professionals.  

This group sprung into action and was able to connect with integral members throughout the Hoboken community to make Little Free Library a reality. “We had a LOT of community support.  Initial funding for building supplies was contributed by the Hoboken Family Alliance and PJ Library of Hudson County. The DIY Joint and local students constructed the mailboxes and local businesses, such as Cre8sArt School, and other local families helped paint the boxes. Todd Hershberger, a carpenter and Hoboken resident, built the posts and led the installation in partnership with the City. The city approved the location of our Little Free Libraries,” said Leah.

The City’s Response

little free library

{Photo credit: @hobokenlfl}

The City of Hoboken has approved three locations for the libraries. The first was installed at Church Square Park on 5th and Willow Streets on March 22nd. The second is being installed at the Hoboken Housing Authority at 221 Jackson Street on March 30th and the final will be installed at Columbus Park on 9th and Grand Streets. 

The libraries will be filled with high-quality, diverse books. Leah shared more on the qualifications for the books. “By high quality, we mean books in good condition. By diverse we mean books that celebrate a variety of cultures, family types, traditions, and lifestyles, as well as promote respect and compassion for the community and beyond.” Columbus Park on 9th and Grand Streets.

The Future of The Little library

little free library

{Photo credit: @hobokenlfl}

The Little Library installation is just the first step in the group’s quest for childhood literacy, but they know that it will have a major impact. “We look forward to moving forward with new initiatives that promote reading access and reading joy.  Our team of Little Free Libraries volunteers continues to grow and it’s truly exciting to see so many people in our community invested in our literacy initiative.” 

Leah shared that she is working with Community Lifestyles leader, Louis Quinones, to create volunteer opportunities for the teens involved in the Teens Take the City program. They will help to maintain the libraries around town.

See More: Raakhee Mirchandani: Hoboken Mother, Journalist, + Host of Brown Mom Podcast

Leah shares that while access to the books themselves is the most vital part of the project, she emphasizes that a joyful reading environment is key to enhance the full experience and enjoyment of the activity. She hopes that the libraries around town, in their bright colors and unexpected locations, spark that joy for those who take advantage.

Residents can feel free to leave or take books to make the magic of reading happen over and over. Individuals do not need to leave a book of their own to take a book and, similarly, individuals can leave books without taking one. 

How to Help

little free library

{Photo credit: @hobokenlfl}

Book donations can be made through the Little Free Library Wish List at Little City Books here. Books that are purchased for donations can be left at Little City Books and the Little Free Library Team will pick them up. “We would love if what we did inspired others to start a Little Free Library,” shares Leah. 

To learn more about the team and its work, check out Little Free Library on Instagram @hobokenlfl and on Facebook here.


Written by:

Jordan and Joelle, contributors and volunteer coordinators to HobokenGirl are true Jersey Girls. Originally hailing from down the shore in Hazlet, NJ, the girls made their "rite of passage" move to Hoboken a few short years after graduating with degrees in Communications from Loyola University. Outside of their 9-5 as senior publishers in NYC, the twins can be found baking cookies, reading the latest books, or walking their yorkie-poo Chica. Like many 20-somethings, Jordan and Joelle are balling on a budget and know how to score the best deals around town