City Islander creates Bronx’s first Little Free Library

A once aspiring librarian is on a mission to promote literacy in our borough.

City Islander Jennie Salgado, queen mother of the Red Hat Society Chapter’s Ageless Joyful Divas 85722, and Eastchester Center for Cancer Care are working together to establish the Bronx’s very first Little Free Library which is part of a worldwide lending library movement.

A self-described bibliophile, Salgado once imagined herself becoming a librarian due to her passion for literature.

“When I was growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money for me to participate in extracurricular activities, but we had a lot of books that I read and grew to love reading,” shared Salgado.

Though she found work as a registered nurse, Salgado’s passion would become the driving force behind creating the Little Free Library.

The first challenge she faced was choosing an accessible space that could house the library.

After reviewing a bevy of locations she decided to gift her library to the Eastchester Center for Cancer Care where her son, Victor received treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and her husband, Raul undergoes post-cancer aftercare.

Salgado approached Linda Nasta, Eastchester Center for Cancer Care manager, with her idea which she quickly accepted.

According to Nasta and Salgado, the Little Free Library will be located on the second floor chemo treatment area.

Her next step was to raise funds to purchase a stamp of the Little Free Library logo to imprint on the books and a bookcase.

Virginia Gallagher, Pilot Cove president, permitted Salgado to post signs in her residence to promote the raffle that helped buy the stamp.

Through the combined enthusiastic response of the residents who purchased tickets, along with Salgado’s Red Hat friends, her dream became a reality.

Eastchester Center for Cancer Care’s Little Free Library is one of less than five in New York City.

Salgado’s library is a three shelved bookcase sporting the Red Hats Society’s trademark purple and red colors, red beads, butterflies, flowers and a guest book.

According to Nasta, the lending library is set to open at the facility at the end of April.

Salgado said some Pilot Cove residents have donated books while one City Island resident contributed nearly 100 books to library.

She is certain the library will bring much joy to the patients at the treatment facility.

“With this Little Free Library here, our patients will feel that they’re in a calm, positive environment which will help them escape the stress and negativity they might be experiencing,” Nasta said.

The Little Free Library ‘take a book, return a book’ free book exchange movement originated in 2009 in Hudson, Wisconsin by Todd Bol when he fabricated a bird house shaped one-room schoolhouse he filled with books and placed on a post in his front lawn.

Bol did this to honor his late mother, Esther Bol, who was a school teacher with a passion for reading.

It later became a movement to promote literacy.

Last October, the original Little Free Library received a commendation from the Library of Congress and today there are over 25,000 little free libraries worldwide.

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