Books meet BBQs with the Library’s Book Rich Environment program

   Written by Drew Pearson, Outreach Services Manager, Main Library

In 2017, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County partnered with Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, opens a new window to participate in a nationwide program dedicated to getting books into communities with limited access to literary resources. Since then, the program has grown in scope and scale, becoming an event that the community looks forward to year after year. 

On Friday, June 14, 2019, the Outreach Services Department along with staff from the Programming Department and Elmwood Place Branch had the privilege of providing free books to residents at the 3rd Annual Book Rich Environment Barbeque in Winton Terrace.

As the smell of cooking hamburgers wafted in the air families ventured into the community tent. Eyes came alive when they saw the display of books. Gasps of shock and excitement escaped as they learned that all the items on the table were free. As individuals arrived at the table they were provided a bag and encouraged to take materials. The materials on the table were arranged according to reading level.

Some of the more popular titles handed out included The Very Hungry Caterpillar, opens a new windowIf You Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, opens a new windowDon’t!, opens a new window, and Goodnight Moon 1, 2, 3, opens a new window. In total 2,606 free books were distributed to 300 individuals.  

In addition, we handed out free buttons and signed families up for the Summer Adventure program, opens a new window. 130 children signed up for Summer Adventure and received a free comic book.

“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read," says Frank Serafini, a noted author and educator specializing in literacy education. "There are only children who have not found the right book." These summer barbeques are an opportunity to get books into the hands of children and spark a lifelong love for reading. 

The program specifically targets areas of Cincinnati and Hamilton County that have been identified as "book deserts". These are pockets within communities that have limited or no access to literary resources like nearby libraries or book shops. All of the books given out at the event are donated by publishers and have never been used. 

In partnership with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and local Housing Authorities, libraries across the nation are working to eliminate book deserts through the Book Rich Environment program, opens a new window. We're honored to bring this important endeavor to Cincinnati. 

Upcoming events are listed below. This is a wonderful opportunity for residents to gather, enjoy music, food, drinks, family fun activities, and meet with local service agencies. 
Millvale: 3357 Beekman from 1-3 p.m.
West End: Stanley Rowe 1621 Linn Street from 1-3 p.m.