Blue Ridge Literacy /Downtown Roanoke, Inc. Collaborate on Little Library Project in Market Square

Blue Ridge Literacy (BRL) has joined Downtown Roanoke, Inc. to oversee the operations of a Little Library book exchange project. Stationary newspaper stands in the Market Square will be transformed into sharing boxes where anyone may take a book or share a book. Downtown Roanoke, Inc. provides the initial books for this project, and Blue Ridge Literacy will be responsible for decorating the book box and making sure it maintains appropriate reading material.

Adult learners who participate in BRL’s ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and Citizenship Preparation classes will make weekly trips downtown to ensure the book box is in good shape and well-supplied. BRL’s Program Director, Sara Geres, believes that “this project creates a great opportunity for our learners to step outside of the classroom and engage in a true learning experience.”

“As a mostly volunteer-run organization, Blue Ridge Literacy relies on the support of community members and volunteers who devote their time and resources to help adult learners reach their life goals through literacy skills,” said Ahoo Salem, Blue Ridge Literacy’s Executive Director. “We are very grateful to have an opportunity to give back to our community through this collaboration.”

BRL’s part-time ESOL instructor and local artist and potter, Mark Davis, will paint the book-sharing box on Saturday, May 22, and May 29 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. He will use colors and images inspired by the cultures and backgrounds of his ESOL learners who come from Afghanistan, Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Myanmar and Puerto Rico. Ahoo Salem can be contacted at [email protected] on these days for additional information.

“We’re very pleased to have connected with Blue Ridge Literacy to enhance an underutilized location in Downtown Roanoke. Unique art creates vibrancy that everyone can enjoy and getting free books into the hands of children and adults is a valuable service to our entire community. Engaging the Blue Ridge Literacy learners in a hands-on project that allows them to enhance their city is a win for everyone,” said Tina Workman, President and CEO of Downtown Roanoke, Inc. 

Founded in 1985, Blue Ridge Literacy offers English literacy services to adults living in the counties of Roanoke, Botetourt, Franklin, Alleghany and Craig, and the cities of Roanoke and Salem.  Last year, over 300 adult learners were served through ESOL classes, 1:1 tutoring matches, and citizenship preparation classes. To learn more, please visit For questions, call 540-265-9339 or email [email protected].

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