WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — If you drive around southeast Wichita, you may notice many more Little Free Libraries. Over the next couple of weeks, 26 will be going up, one for each letter of the alphabet.

What makes these different is that a sound comes out when you open the door. Visitors will hear the sound of the letter that’s painted on the little library and several words that begin with the letter.

The “F” Little Free Library is in Wichita’s Lincoln Park. (KSN Photo)

On Thursday, City and library partners held a ribbon cutting for the Little Free Library named “F.” It is located in Lincoln Park, 1323 S. Topeka.

The Wichita Public Library, Wichita Literacy Coalition, and other community partners developed the project to help kids in low literacy areas. So far, the project is just in District III, which covers part of south and southeast Wichita.

“The project helps kids and parents in our … low-income areas have better access to books, tools, and resources so that they can explore reading at home,” Jaime Nix, Wichita director of libraries, said. “That’s such a critical experience for pre-readers to have access to a wide array of diverse materials so that they see themselves mirrored through the stories so that they get excited about the illustrations, and the words and the concepts.”

Nix said the Wichita Public Library and the community partners want to help raise a community of readers.

“We want to make sure that Wichita’s parents and caregivers are aware of how the library can help and how we can connect them to additional library resources at their neighborhood branch,” she said.

John DeCesaro, Wichita Public Library Foundation board president, said some of the community partners include Evergy, Hutton, Foundation donors, Wichita State University’s College of Engineering, which came up with the audio component, and CityArts.

“None of this would have happened without them, and because of them, the library system reaches into our communities, promotes literacy and enriches the lives of children and families right here in Wichita,” he said.

Evergy employees helped paint the libraries, and the Evergy Green Team donated recycled utility poles to hold each library.

“At Evergy, we’re committed to empowering a better future for our customers and our communities,” Don Sherman, senior manager of community affairs with Evergy, said. “Making a positive impact in the communities we serve and call home is a foundational component of our business.”

All the community partners on the project believe that developing reading skills is essential for the long-term success of residents, both in school and beyond.

“All children aged five and under deserve access to reading materials that ignite joy for learning
and early learning skills,” Larry Daniels, program manager for the Wichita Literacy Coalition, said.

Organizers say the books for early learners and parents will be provided by the library and community partners. Everyone is welcome to use the Little Free Libraries and to share books forward.

“Strategic investments in family engagement and early literacy efforts are critical as new parents
learn about the library and the multitude of ways the library and community partners collaborate
to help them raise a reader,” Nix said.

To get more information about the Little Free Libraries, including a printable and interactive map of library locations, click here.

All locations expected to be open in the next few weeks:

• A: Fire Station 11, 1845 George Washington Blvd.
• B: Fire Station 22, 22 E. Denker St.
• C: Ascension Via Christi Property Services, 1131 S. Clifton Ave.
• D: Department of Children and Families, 2601 S. Oliver
• E: Neighborhood Residence, 2032 S. Terrace Dr.
• F: Lincoln Park, 1323 S. Topeka St.
• G: Neighborhood Residence, 1515 S. Ellis
• H: Neighborhood Residence, 2719 E. Timberlane
• I: Stearman Park, 3500 E. Cessna
• J: Bread of Life, 1301 E. Galena St.
• K: Schweiter Park, 900 S. Chautauqua
• L: Linwood Elementary, 1654 S. Hydraulic
• M: Neighborhood Residence, 1506 E. 59th St.
• N: Herman Hill: Water Center, 101 E. Pawnee St.
• O: Holly Park Apartments, 5323 E. Harry St.
• P: Paxton’s Blessing Box, 2820 S. Roosevelt St.
• Q: Leon Robinson Park, 2700 S. Washington
• R: Neighborhood Residence, 2030 S. Lulu
• S: Child’s Horizon Preschool, 2221 S. Oliver
• T: Wichita Transit Bus Stop, 45th & Hydraulic
• U: Caldwell Elementary, 1441 S. Edgemoor
• V: Visit & Exchange Program, 910 S. Bluffview Dr.
• W: Wichita Transit Bus Stop, 31st & Seneca
• X: Harry Street Elementary, 1605 S. Market
• Y: Anderson Elementary, 2945 S. Victoria
• Z: Hillside Feed and Seed, 1805 S. Hillside

If you want to donate funds to the Little Free Library program, contact the Wichita Public Library Foundation at 316-204-1348.