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Identity & Community
Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

Little Libraries Could Have Big Community Impact

Office of Jake Wheatley

A project at Pittsburgh’s Brashear High School to place small “libraries” throughout the community is picking up steam with local lawmakers.

The project, launched last year by parent Debra Smallwood and a career and technical engineering class, builds and decorates wooden boxes to be installed at local organizations. Host facilities agree to stock the boxes with books and place them in a public location so that passersby can borrow the books or add to the collections.

The class made about 40 libraries last year, with another 60 orders left to fill.

“So I told them I would be willing to work with them to make sure that we can try to create some community partners to help them make sure they can meet their demand,” state Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) said, by purchasing more materials or having those materials donated by local companies.

Wheatley and four other state representative and senators were presented with libraries Wednesday with the expectation they would be put outside of one of their district offices.

“Mine will be geared around the books that I like and what I thought were very good for me as I grew up,” said Wheatley.

Those books will range children's picture books to literature intended for adults, he said.

Mayor Bill Peduto was also presented with a library to be placed in the City-County Building.

The small boxes "allow for people who might not ever make it into a public library, but just walking down the street and see something that might catch their eye,” Wheatley said.

Brashear officials have been keeping a list of where the libraries have been placed. Wheatley said he hopes to create a map of those locations soon.