Mansfield City Schools’ Laundry Basket Library was established in 2001 as a community outreach by Deb McKee, Title I Family Involvement Coordinator at that time. When funding for the program was discontinued by Title I a few years later, Deb began enlisting volunteers and soliciting donations. We are celebrating 20 years of serving our community with this book project as of June, 2021.
With the celebration comes new leadership, ideas and design of this literacy project. Our new Overall Coordinator for the Laundry Basket Library Project is Susie Ryckman, who is a veteran volunteer with the program.
The purpose of this project is to provide access to books for families across Mansfield. Laundry baskets filled with books for all ages, are placed in supermarkets, gas stations, clinics, restaurants, carry-outs, our local hospital, bus station, tutoring programs, and social service agencies. Each basket is labeled with the invitation to “Enjoy a Free Book or Two”. The books are for all ages with the hope that all family members will pick up a book to read.
We have gone through many transitions over the past 20 years. We began with one volunteer and two sites in 2001, while working out of two former shower stalls in Hedges School. We then moved to Sherman School in 2006, which is currently the “home” for our books. This has enabled us to have much more storage as we have grown. Presently we are serving 25 sites with laundry baskets, with deliveries made once or twice a month. These deliveries total about 1,000 free books per month! Books are donated from various sources such as teachers, community members, partner organizations, church rummage sales, Friends of the Library, and garage sales.
We adapted our LBL book outreach to meet the challenges of COVID when we were unable to deliver books to our usual baskets for over a year. We sought out community agencies that were already serving families by a home visit or at “grab and go” sites like the Summer Recreation Parks program and provided books to include in their programs.
This program would not exist without our Valuable Volunteers! We have over twenty folks who regularly sort, pack and deliver books, some registered with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).
Program Coordinator Susie is always looking for more volunteers and donations. If you have books that you no longer want, please keep this project in mind. If you would like to volunteer or donate, please contact Susie at 419-564-9555.