ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When the Tampa Bay Times closed its printing plant in St. Pete, Kristine Dowhan went over to take the old newspaper stands off of their hands. 

What You Need To Know

  • Old Tampa Bay Times newspaper stands have been transformed into Little Free Libraries

  • So far there are 185 Little Free Libraries in 165 locations throughout Pinellas County

  • Kristine Dowhan is the one who started the initiative to make books available to more residents

  • Anyone can take a book and leave a book

She is transforming them into new Little Free Libraries to place around the city. During the pandemic, she started a nonprofit called St. Pete Shush. She began creating the libraries, filling them with books, and putting them out into the community. 

“I want everybody to have access to books. I don’t care what skin color you have, I don’t care what gender you have, I don’t care about your sexual identity. Enjoy a book. Take a book,” said Dowhan.

As she started to distribute the Little Free Libraries, more people began asking for them.

“The fact that it’s grown so huge in such a short amount of time just speaks volumes,” said Dowhan.

Dowhan has been repurposing the old newspaper stands into new libraries. So far, she says there are 185 in 165 locations throughout Pinellas County. She still has roughly 75 to transform. When they’re finished, they will be filled with books and put in different neighborhoods.

Dowhan says they are focused on filling each library with books for all ages. She says it’s important to her, and the people who run the libraries, to stock them with LGBTQ+ and BIPOC books.

“Every single person needs windows and they need mirrors. And so our focus on diversity and the Read in Color program from Little Free Library is so important to our entire group,” said Dowhan.

The project is funded through donations. You can learn more about how you can help here.