Login | October 22, 2020

Muni court unveils new educational resource for residents

Located in front of the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center on South High Street in downtown Akron, the Little Free Library was installed on Sept. 8, with the official ribbon-cutting ceremony taking place on Sept. 18. Pictured here Akron Municipal Court Magistrate Kani Hightower, left, and Akron Host Lions Club Secretary James Moses Stein cut the ribbon on the book-sharing box. (Photo courtesy of Akron Municipal Court).

Legal News Reporter

Published: October 16, 2020

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when gyms and other recreational opportunities weren’t available Akron Municipal Court Community Outreach and Grants Coordinator Nicole Hagy often went for evening walks in North Park in Jackson Township.
One night she came across a Little Free Library book-sharing box.
A nonprofit organization, Little Free Library seeks to eliminate book deserts through its neighborhood book exchange boxes that provide around-the-clock access to free reading materials for people of all ages who live in areas where libraries are scarce or nonexistent.
“I had seen these book exchange boxes before the pandemic and I thought they were a great way to encourage children to read,” said Hagy. “Given that libraries and schools were closed at the time, I thought it was an even better idea since many children likely did not have access to books.”
Later that evening, Hagy started thinking about the children who accompanied their parents to Akron Municipal Court prior to the pandemic.
“A lot of times, they didn’t have anything to do while they waited,” she said.
“I thought if we had a book-sharing box outside the courthouse it would allow them to grab a book on the way in and make the experience less tedious for everyone involved.”
After discussing the idea with the judges, court officials secured just over $500 in funding from the community service club Akron Host Lions Club to cover the cost of the project.
“We were thrilled to be a part of this endeavor,” said Akron Host Lions Club Secretary James Moses Stein, who also made a personal donation to the court to cover the cost of the initial books. “Our motto is to serve the community and this is just one of the many ways in which we can do so.
“Lions Clubs across the country have partnered with the Little Free Library to sponsor these book exchanges, but this is the first one our organization has been involved with.”
Located in front of the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center on S. High Street in downtown Akron, the book-sharing kiosk was installed on Sept. 8, with the official ribbon-cutting ceremony taking place on Sept. 18.
Akron Municipal Court Magistrate Kani Hightower joined Stein in celebrating the occasion, cutting the ribbon on what they hope will become a popular community resource.
“I was very happy to participate on behalf of the judges of the Akron Municipal Court,” said Hightower, who has served as magistrate since January 2020.
“Education is extremely important and that’s why we need to make sure children in the community have access to books.
“With the ongoing pandemic, we recognize that residents need outlets and this new location will provide much-needed resources, which aligns perfectly with the court’s mission of serving the public,” said Hightower. “Given how busy downtown Akron is, we believe this book-sharing site will be quite popular. As a parent of two school-aged children, who are going through their learning stages, I am especially excited to be a part of this project.”
“Having a Little Free Library outside our building will encourage a love of reading and education for people of all ages,” said Akron Municipal Court Administrative/Presiding Judge Nicole Walker. “The Little Free Library is one of the many ways we serve our community in an innovative fashion. We are grateful for the Akron Host Lions Club and those who have donated materials already.”
“In addition to encouraging reading, I think it will help to make the court experience more pleasant for children who come to court with their parents by providing them with an exciting way to pass the time,” said Stein.
Moving forward Hagy said the goal is to make the book exchange self-sustaining through donations from the community.
“We’re hoping people might take a book and bring a book, but if they can’t do that they are certainly welcome to take one and keep it,” said Hagy. “The goal is to get people on a healthy path, especially during these trying times, and reading is definitely a healthy habit.”
Anyone who would like to arrange to donate a large quantity of books that won’t fit in the box should contact Nicole Hagy at 330-375-2186 or send an email to (NHagy@akronohio.gov).