St. Pete’s Kristine Dowhan helps distribute more than 200,000 free books throughout the city

St. Pete’s Kristine Dowhan helps distribute more than 200,000 free books throughout the city

A tall telephone booth repurposed into a library. A person poses in front of the telephone booth.

There are little free libraries all over the Sunshine City — and one resident was just recognized for her significant contributions to the cause. Kristine Dowhan of St. Petersburg was recognized by the Little Free Library organization for launching St. Pete Shush, coordinating more than 200 volunteers in the city to get books in the hands of readers young and old.

Dowhan’s own Little Free Library, and we use the term “Little” loosely, is hard to miss. Her library is actually a repurposed telephone booth. This beautifully painted and arranged booth is a door to Narnia, a step abroad the Tardis, or maybe it’s the Phantom Tollbooth. Dowhan’s Little Free Library provides a service to the community, and is emblematic of the power of stories.

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Little Free Library’s late founder, Todd H. Bol, believed strongly in the power of individuals to change the world through acts of kindness. The organization hears stories every day of outstanding stewards who repair others’ little libraries; who have created networks of book-sharing boxes; or who work tirelessly to strengthen the sense of community in their area.

Dowhan is one of several recipients from across the country of the 2022 Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement.

Kristine Dowhan creates a magical library in St. Pete

Kristine Dowhan started a Little Free Library made from a telephone booth at her home when the pandemic closed public libraries in her St. Petersburg community. But she didn’t stop there. Kristine has also placed 236 Little Free Libraries made from upcycled Tampa Bay Times newsstands!

Stewarding these newsstands-turned-libraries is a group effort. Kristine has built up an impressive network of more than 260 local volunteers in St. Petersburg. Through this network, more than 200,000 books have been freely shared throughout the Tampa Bay community.

“My project was my pandemic lifeline, and there were points where it was the only thing holding me together and keeping me sane,” said Kristine. “So many of my stewards feel the same about their libraries. I’ve made so many new friends and acquaintances through the project, and the opportunities to grow as an individual and as a leader have been endless.”

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Dowhan is also a part of the marvelous St. Pete Shush program. Click HERE to see a full map of Little Free Libraries in the area.

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