‘Little Libraries’: Unique Crime Fighting Tool Aims To Make Tulsa Safer

Sunday, August 11th 2019, 10:50 pm
By: Erick Payne

Leaders are taking a unique approach in the fight against crime.

Tulsa's Crime Prevention Network will soon add what they call "Little Libraries" for kids in low income and high crime areas of the city.

The main goal is to give kids something productive to do.

The longer-term goals include raising literacy and education, while lowering crime.

More than a dozen Tulsa World newspaper boxes were pulled off the streets and left without a purpose, until they were given away to a group with an idea.

"We're going to clean them up, paint them and then put them out at moderate to low income apartment complexes," Karen Gilbert, executive director of Tulsa's Crime Prevention Network, said.

The group will breathe new life into them in the next couple of weeks. Volunteers will paint them all with a superhero theme, and stock them with this room full of books.

Gilbert said they hope it gives four to 10-year-olds, and potentially teenagers, something to do -- in areas which aren't as kid-friendly.

"Just to give kids something to do, touring some of the apartment complexes there's nothing unfortunately for kids," Gilbert said.

Gilbert said the concept is simple, but they're working with the Tulsa Apartment Association and Tulsa Police Department -- hoping the impact will be much deeper.

"Along with stocking them with books, we're hoping to boost our literacy rates in the city," Gilbert said.

Studies and research show there's a correlation between low literacy rates, socio-economic levels and crime.

One said -- "neighborhood poverty is associated with young children's lower academic performance, and higher behavioral and emotional problems."

Gilbert hopes these "Little Libraries" will combat the issue.

"Working together as a community to make Tulsa a safer place," Gilbert said.

They've received dozens of boxes of books to fill the "Little Libraries" with. They've also had many businesses and groups reach out to try and help and donate even more.