Fordham USG Launches Take-A-Book-Leave-A-Book Program


The Take-A-Book-Leave-A-Book program would improve accessibility of books among everyone who uses it. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Julianna Morales, Contributing Writer

Most students at Fordham get their books from the Walsh Family Library or the Quinn Library, at the Rose Hill or Lincoln Center campuses, respectively. However, Fordham’s United Student Government (USG) is working to provide a new way for students to access books. The idea is to create a Take a Book, Leave a Book (TABLAB) library on campus. 

The USG initiative is being led by Senator Thomas DePaola, GSB ’22. He proposed the idea to the other members at their fall retreat this year. DePaola explained that he discovered the idea on social media after seeing similar mini libraries appearing around the country. He is now working with two fellow USG Senators Kristen Ronan, FCRH ’22, and Joseph Marraccini, GSB ’22, to make the Fordham mini library a reality.

The concept of Take a Book, Leave a Book libraries was started by the Little Free Library organization, a nonprofit working out of Hudson, Wisconsin. Their website lists their mission as “a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Libraries.” 

Over 100,000 Little Free Libraries have been created in over 100 countries. Together, they have made it so that over 42 million books are shared each year. The website also listed statistics from a survey of over 2,500 library stewards between 2017 and 2021. The results stated that 72% had met more of their neighbors since starting the library. 92% of survey respondents said they felt the library made their neighborhood feel like a friendlier place. These community-building benefits are just positive consequences of the main mission. 

The hope of the organization is to allow everyone continuous access to books free of charge. The libraries are small and always open, not having set business hours or fees like more traditional libraries. Additionally, they are kept stocked by the public. The idea is that those taking a book will replace it with another one, thereby not diminishing the collection. According to the Little Free Library webpage, the United States is currently facing a literacy crisis. There are over 30 million adults who are not able to read past a third-grade level. The hope is that by increasing access to literature, the organization can help combat this growing issue. 

The USG has a different end goal in mind. “Our goal in building this library is to allow Fordham students to make use of their old books by trading them in for new ones they have never read before, while simultaneously providing others with the chance to read the book they put in the library,” said DePaola. “We hope to expand opportunities to build reading and learning communities on campus.” 

There are numerous steps that each proposed USG initiative must go through before reaching its end result. USG Vice President Arianna Chen, FCRH ’22, explained that the process varies between projects. However, she did explain that they typically start with peer research of the university’s existing policies or by discussing the ideas with student organizations and university departments.

 “For each initiative, there is an intentional brainstorming process that we take very seriously: What need is this serving in our community? How can this project be used as a tool to shape a more inclusive community?” explained Chen. “In reference to TABLAB, we’re really passionate about offering additional opportunities for our peers to foster community in this transitional year through the love of reading, and asynchronously encourage important dialogues about substantial topics.”

The library isn’t quite ready to be up and running, but it is approaching that point, said DePaola. He stated that the hope is to have the library functional by the end of the spring 2022 semester. USG will be submitting a request for the purchase of the bookshelf at their next meeting. At this time, they are also working on collecting books to stock it with. Take a Book, Leave Book libraries are run on an honor system to keep literature circulating as well as provide everyone the chance to utilize the library. 

Fordham students interested in using Fordham’s Take a Book, Leave a Book library should have their old books ready when they see the shelf pop up on campus.