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David Jolly unveils new Little Free Libraries across Pinellas County

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Congressman David Jolly unveiled one of nine Little Free Libraries in Largo outside the Greater Ridgecrest YMCA Monday morning.

The libraries are boxes set up in various locations where people can “take a book, leave a book.” The concept is designed to promote literacy and encourage kids to read by making books available easily and at no cost.

“I am very grateful for our community partners for bringing free books into neighborhoods to help kids discover the joy of reading.,” Jolly said. “While these may just look like books, each Little Free Library is giving our next generation of learners the key to a better education and in turn a better future. Even in the technologically advanced world of computer screens and smartphones, nothing can replace turning the pages of a book and being transported to new worlds by the words on a page.”

Jolly partnered with several businesses in Pinellas County to get the boxes up and running in the community. St. Pete cabinetmaker T2theS constructed the boxes. Pieczonka Trophy of Florida donated signage for the Little Free Libraries. And Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter along with J.O. DeLotto and Son’s installed the boxes for free.

“Free Little Libraries are a great opportunity to make books accessible to kids and help them expand their love of learning through reading. Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter was excited to participate in this worthwhile community project that will hopefully inspire and educate young students.” said Steve Cona III, the company’s president and CEO.

Jolly began work on the program last month collecting new and gently used children’s books to stock the libraries. Donations rolled in from members in the community including retired teachers and veterans.

St. Pete’s Wright National Flood Insurance Services plan to donate $1,000 worth of new and used books.

Four of the nine Free Little Libraries will go up at Pinellas County YMCA locations including the Ridgcrest facility, Highpoint Branch in Clearwater, the Jim and Heather Gills YMCA on First Ave. South in St. Pete and the Speer YMCA Preschool Academy in South St. Pete.

“The Y is known for our youth development programs. An integral part of these programs are dedicated to closing the Achievement Gap with educational tools and community partnerships like the Little Library,” said YMCA of the Suncoast President and CEO G. Scott Goyer.

Other locations include the Lutheran Services Florida Head Start Center in Dunedin, Alegria Montessori in Greater Pinellas Point, Montessori by the Sea in St. Pete Beach and the Clearwater We Rock the Spectrum on Starkey Road in Largo.

A ninth location has yet to be determined.

Pinellas County high school students will be painting seven of the boxes before installation.

The announcement comes at the start of American Education Week.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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