How One Concorde Campus Turned a “Little” Idea into Something Bigger


"If you can dream it, you can do it." - Walt Disney

The first chapter in this story begins starts the latter half of 2013 when Teresa Collins, Learning Resource Center Coordinator for Concorde Career Institute's Tampa campus, was participating in a professional development webinar.

During the training session, the concept of Little Free Libraries were presented as a way to build community goodwill. Teresa was intrigued.


The Little Free Library has been gaining moment across the U.S. since 2009, when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis., built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading.

He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. Folks from his neighborhood would take a book and replace it with one that the wanted to donate. The idea caught like wildfire!

But Collins didn't know of any these "take a book, return a book" exchanges in her community.

Collins thought the "Little Free Library" concept would make a great service project for Concorde and when she shared her idea with Kathy Tillinghast, academic dean for the Concorde campus in Tampa.

She gave Collins the green light to approach the Tampa Parks and Recreation Department with the idea of donating three "Little Free Libraries" filled with books for all ages. The plan was for Concorde to donate the libraries and the books and Parks and Recreation would maintain them.


As with all good things, it took some time for Concorde to gain approval, but Collins and the Tampa campus didn't rest until their idea was complete!

When they thought about the funding to build the libraries and buying books, they didn't have to look far beyond the folks on campus.

Generous Concorde students and staff paid $1 a day during the course of a campaign: Wear jeans to promote literacy. They raised nearly $400 in just one week! Not long after, Concorde Tampa's first Little Free Library became a reality on March 12.


This week, Concorde Tampa's second Little Free Library was unveiled and installed at the Seminole Heights Garden Center.

Collins wasn't the only one who got involved. Nicole Lambert, Surgical Technology Program Director at Concorde Tampa, put her skills to use and helped to build the new library, which features actual asphalt roofing and can hold two dozen books.

As for Collins, she humbly shares the spotlight with some many who helped fill a void in the community.

"I'm sure that like-minded individuals probably asked the same questions that I did when they heard about the Little Free Libraries," she said. "They, too, took a proactive approach and now there are libraries popping up all over our community."

Concorde Tampa will donate its third Little Free Library to the Tampa community in 2016. Be inspired, fellow readers, it only takes a spark to get a fire going!

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