Local nonprofit brings Little Free Library to Hampton Roads Regional Jail

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Those visiting friends or family at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail will now have the literary world at their fingertips.

Thanks to donations from the Friends of the Portsmouth Public Library, the jail now has a Little Free Library in its lobby. The library opened this week after months of preparations.

The Little Free Library was donated to the jail in February to establish an ongoing book exchange for those who might be visiting loved ones at the facility. The structure was designed by young people staying at the HER Shelter in Portsmouth, and jail officers worked to make sure it was suitable for installation.

Visitors are able to walk over to the library and pick up a book to read. If they enjoy it, they are welcome to take it home and keep it; if they have a favorite book at home they’d like to share with others, they are encouraged to bring it in and donate it to the library. Even if visitors don’t donate any books, Friends of the Portsmouth Public Library has agreed to allow the jail to come by and pick up books for free to keep the library stocked.

“Little Free Libraries build community one book at a time. It’s an opportunity so share with others a love of reading. As people pick out or drop off a book, the contents of the Little Free Library change, so you never know what treasure you will find,” said Glenn Tinsley of the Friends of the Portsmouth Public Library. “It gives you a chance to be a part of your community in a meaningful way.”

“I think it just adds the note that we are really excited about doing as much for the community as we can,” said Hampton Roads Regional Jail Superintendent Col. David Hackworth. “Something like this really does take a community effort, and we appreciate the Friends of the Portsmouth Public Library for helping us bring this to our facility.”

The library currently has books for children as young as infants and as old as high school-age kids.

Right now, the jail isn’t accepting outside community donations but will look into doing so for the future.