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LITTLE LIBRARIES FOR KIDS: More Literary Initiatives Coming to Rural Communities

UW-Madison’s Extension Division to provide laundromat libraries and other resources to those who have fewer literary opportunities

Sawyer Hoff |

A GROUP EFFORT. The UW-Madison Division of Extension is launching several new literacy initiatives to put reading resources in spots where families often congregate. (Photos via Facebook)

The UW-Madison Division of Extension partnered with the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library last year to launch Eau Claire Laundromat Libraries – an initiative to get more children’s books out into the community. After the success of that initiative, the local Extension office is now creating similar literary resources in more communities that may have limited access to them.

“Our goal is to target the spaces where families live, where they work, where they connect spiritually, so the initiative is called ‘Learning in Every Day Spaces,’ ” said Yia Lor, Human Development & Relationships Educator with UW Extension in Eau Claire County.

Learning in Everyday Spaces will start with implementing laundromat libraries in smaller cities or small libraries in spaces such as grocery stores, gas stations, or food pantries. The libraries will target kids ages birth to 8 and aim to provide resources that help with early literacy. The books and resources are available in English, HMoob/Hmong, and Spanish, and are a great way for families to have access to these materials and allow for positive interactions with reading and playing.

New Book Barn installed outside of the Extension Office.
New Book Barn installed outside of the Extension Office.

The Altoona Laundromat Library will be launching on Feb. 24 at the Spooner Avenue Laundromat (1427 Spooner Ave., Altoona) thanks to the Altoona Public Library, the Altoona Lions Club, and Royal Credit Union. This space and Extension’s other initiatives will be ready just in time for Read Across America Week, which begins March 2.

Partnering with the Horticulture staff at Extension and the Eau Claire Area Master Gardener Volunteers, there will also be a family Book Barn installed outside of the Extension office (227 First St. W., Altoona) near the teaching gardens. That little library will be filled with free children’s books as well as free seeds community members can plant.

“We work so closely with our partners to address local needs and we couldn’t do this work without our partners,” Lor said.

If you know of a rural community space that could use a library kit, you can reach out to Lor at To find a list of libraries in the area, you can go to