The LFL down Broadway Street is situated right in front of another important resource for the community: the Broadway Neighborhood Center. This nonprofit is one of two locations under the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County program. The centers have four central areas of focus, including early childhood education, before and after school care, family support services and youth programs like West High’s G! World. The LFL acts as a means to carry out these goals by providing equal access to education.
“This is a way for us to make sure that there are books accessible to kids 24/7,” said Andrew Coghill-Behrends, who is the Family Support Director, Broadway Site Director, and steward of the LFL for the Broadway center. “The books are always there, so if kids are looking for something for free, they can just come up to the center, and there’ll be something out there.”
Keeping close to this goal of childhood education, the Broadway Neighborhood Center LFL is mostly filled with children’s picture books and young adult novels. Along with checking to make sure the library is fully stocked, Coghill-Behrends ensures the contents of the library are family-friendly.
“We are a nonprofit, so we obviously can’t have anything political or religious in our little free library. Anything like that ends up getting taken out. Other than that, it’s just making sure that it’s in good repair and that everything that is in it is appropriate for children,” Coghill-Behrends said.
Despite isolation during the pandemic, Coghill-Behrends hopes the library is a way for the community to stay connected.
“Some sense of community and sharing is one of the things that is important right now. Even if we cannot be in close proximity to each other, we can still be borrowing a book or leaving a book for someone else to borrow. I hope that that sense of collective is something that is important,” Coghill-Behrends said.