Sarasota County adds Little Free Library to Newtown Estates Park

National reading program promotes sharing of books in communities

Children hang from the monkey bars at Newtown Estates Park. Image courtesy Sarasota County
Children hang from the monkey bars at Newtown Estates Park. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Sarasota County added a new “Little Free Library” to Newtown Estates Park on March 1, just in time for National Read Across America Day on March 2, the county has announced.

The library was made possible “by a generous grant from the Dr. Martin Luther King Day of Service award, which was provided through State College of Florida to Project Read Together Inc.,” a Sarasota-based, nonprofit literacy organization, a news release says.

Newtown Estates Park is located at 2800 Newtown Blvd. in Sarasota.

While the county already has nine Little Free Libraries, the release notes, the grant will make it possible to add three more, with the Newtown Estates Park location being the first.

Two other organizations recently donated Little Free Libraries, the release says. The South West Educational Foundation provided one to Arlington Park, and the Friends of the Legacy Trail installed one at Culverhouse Nature Park.

“The Little Free Library program encourages neighborhood residents to use and contribute to small lending libraries at standalone locations,” the release explains. Each essentially is a box of books available for anyone to borrow on the honor system. Users are simply asked to replace each book with another in good condition from their collections at home, the release notes.

Three county departments — Libraries and Historical Resources; Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources; and the University of Florida (UF)/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Extension and Sustainability Office — launched the project in 2014 to offer Little Free Libraries at locations throughout the county, the release adds.

“The Little Free Library program has provided a unique way to explore literature, and they serve as a gathering place where neighbors share their favorite books,” said Libraries and Historical Resources Director Sarabeth Kalajian in the release.

Lee Hayes Byron, sustainability manager for Sarasota County, feels the Little Free Libraries provides a host of great benefits to the community, the release continues.

“This program promotes a love of reading and saves people money by encouraging the sharing economy,” noted Byron in the release, adding, “There is also an environmental benefit by keeping books circulating and out of the landfill.”

National Read Across America Day was launched in 1997 by the National Education Association to celebrate reading and to motivate children to spend more time with books, the release continues. National Read Across America Day takes place annually on March 2.

Little Free Libraries are also available at the following locations:

  • Twin Lakes Park, Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension Office, 6700 Clark Road, Sarasota.
  • Urfer Family Park, 4000 Honore Ave., Sarasota.
  • Colonial Oaks Park, 5300 Colonial Oaks Blvd., Sarasota.
  • Longwood Park, 6050 Longwood Run Blvd., Sarasota.
  • Shamrock Park, 3900 Shamrock Drive, Venice.
  • Englewood Sports Complex, 1300 S. River Road, Englewood.
  • George Mullen Activity Center, 1602 Kramer Way, North Port.
  • Arlington Park, 2650 Waldemere St., Sarasota.
  • Culverhouse Nature Park, 7301 McIntosh Road, Sarasota.

To learn more about the Little Free Library project, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 861-5000, or visit