I’ve written in the past about how grateful I am for The Pollination Project community. The Smile Project received a grant from them a number of years ago and has had opportunities to volunteer and work with them in the years since. It was through The Pollination Project that I became connected to another grant recipient, Niki Smith, of Johnston, IA. Niki is the founder of the Little Free Library of Banned Books. I’m thrilled to feature her in this #ServiceSpotlight.
Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Project fashion. What is bringing you joy right now?
Niki: Learning new things about our world.
Liz: What is your project?
Niki: We installed a Little Free Library on our property to distribute books that have been banned in Iowa schools.
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Niki: My mom passed away in 2022. When she died, her Facebook profile picture was a list of banned books. She was a very avid reader. This library was installed in her honor, but also to ensure the voices of underrepresented groups are told and spread in our community.
Liz: What does service mean to you?
Niki: I admittedly didn’t get bit with the reading bug as much as my mother did. But, one of my greatest joys has been watching my children learn to read and to learn so much about our world through reading. This project ensures we can spread the superpower of reading and empathy with the world.
Liz: How can people get involved?
Niki: You can follow our library on our Facebook page. You can purchase a book off our wish list and have it delivered to our home. We put them straight into our Little Free Library (after we give them a quick read).
Liz: Do you have a favorite quote or piece of advice to leave us with?
Niki: A great library has something in it to offend everyone.