Meet the Tiny Library | Editorial

Toddlers and their caregivers in Meridian, ID, have a cool new space to love with the arrival of the Tiny Library branch, geared toward early learning.

Toddlers and their caregivers in Meridian, ID, have a new, cool space to love with the arrival of the Tiny Library branch, geared toward early learning. Aptly named, the branch is a repurposed shipping container and comes in at a mere 300 square feet. Nonetheless, it holds vast promise for the many who will encounter it in an innovative community development project that also includes a YMCA, medical center, elementary school, and park.

The Hill, as it is known, is a 22.5 acre campus designed to foster the well-being of the community. It’s also an example of a major partnership effort, with five entities involved in making it happen: Treasure Valley YMCA, St. Luke’s Health System, the City of Meridian, West Ada School District, and, yes, the Meridian Library District (MLD).

The concept for the Tiny Library developed after voters twice declined to support a new branch in the location at the supermajority required. That setback didn’t stop the library, led by director Gretchen Caserotti, an LJ Mover & Shaker, from dreaming on how to make an impact at The Hill. Her team had already set the tone with unBound, a tech-focused branch in an old bank downtown.

Moving into the Tiny Library, where small scale carries big promises, with library director Gretchen Caserotti and youth services librarian Skye Corey.

“This approach stems from a ‘lighter, quicker, cheaper’ way of thinking about our limited footprint and expansion challenges,” Caserotti says. “By creating a public space with a more specific service focus that is designed around the physical space opportunity, we can communicate our services in a new way to our patrons and thereby increase their awareness of what a modern library offers. Our hope is the citizens will decide to fund a full-service branch on [this] site in the future and we could move the Tiny Library to another area.”

The project is estimated to come in at less than $200,000, says Caserotti. Her team learned a lot along the way “and could reduce the cost if we were to replicate [it].” She plans to include those ideas in a toolkit currently in development. Funding came from a series of grants and private donations, as well as the proceeds from the 2018 Penguin Random House Library Awards for Innovation, of which I was honored to serve as a judge.

Tiny tots may be able to make the most of the little space, and that’s the point. Library research found a gap in resources geared toward early literacy, Skye Corey, MLD’s youth services librarian, told the Meridian Press, and the program plan for an interactive space with a small, rotating collection emerged from those insights.

The Tiny Library is a model to watch. It is also a stake in the ground for the people of Meridian. May it bring more support for the library in the years to come.




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