The Laundromat Library League consists of diverse individuals and organizations that are making books available to children who have few or no books at home. We do this by placing small “library boxes” of children’s books in laundromats and occasional other sites. Each decorated box has a laminated sign that invites children and caregivers to read a book there, take it home, and pass it on to someone else. Usually the boxes are decorated cardboard and contain 50-60 children's books over the full range of levels: board books for toddlers, picture books for the very young, early reader and chapter books, and books for youth. Each book has a sticker affixed to the front that says “Read It. Love It. Pass It On."
Why does it work?
An owner of a participating laundromat knows that at least twice a month the contents will be refreshed by an LLL “steward” who also will remove anything in the box not placed there by the LLL. Owners know it is OK if the books aren’t returned; the LLL simply wants the books to be used.
Where do the books come from?
Most books are gently used and come from libraries, schools, homes, and book sale leftovers. Others come from specific book drives, especially board books (for toddlers) and books in Spanish that are less likely to come from regular sources. Donated funds and modest grants are sought to purchase additional books in especially needed categories. The inventory is maintained and organized in two different locations in West Chester, PA, where volunteer groups affix book stickers and assemble boxes. Initially, decorated cardboard “banker’s boxes” are used. With the consent of local laundromat owners these can be replaced by wooden boxes. West Chester Friends School in central West Chester is the drop-off/pick-up site for local volunteers to obtain library boxes and replacement books. Books are mailed to, or driven to, more distant sites. By early 2020, the LLL had received through donation and distributed over 106,000 children’s books. In addition, many books in Spanish or other needed categories were purchased with donated funds to “enrich” the library box contents.
Where are the laundromats?
Founded in 2014, the LLL began with a few sites in eastern Pennsylvania and later expanded to locations throughout Pennsylvania and the nearby states of New Jersey and Delaware. In early 2020, the LLL had over 216 sites in 28 states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CT, DE, FL, IA, ID, IL, KS, LA, ME, MI, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, and VT. We will get books to any U.S. location with a willing laundromat owner and one or more volunteers that will deliver books and steward the site. The LLL provides or covers the cost of all books and other materials, including shipping costs when necessary.