My Very Own Library was founded in 2011 by Anne Feeley. Over the course of her time volunteering for various community organizations, Feeley witnessed firsthand the profound impact of illiteracy on the life of an individual, but she also saw how, with encouragement from teachers and family members, a single book could alter the course of a child’s academic life. My Very Own Library was born from that idea, that if we invest in students, give them access to books, and provide their teachers and families with resources in which to support them, then anything is possible. Though Feeley passed in 2012, her work lives on. What started as a small program out of Newark, New Jersey quickly expanded to several states across the nation, even branching out to schools in the Dominican Republic.
In 2019, My Very Own Library found its home at the University of Chicago under the leadership of President Robert J. Zimmer and Executive Director of K – 12 Initiatives, Duane Davis. With deep ties to the local South Side Chicago community and a commitment to supporting and improving Chicago Public Schools, the University understood the importance of giving students access enriching, educational materials and opportunities, as well as the need to build community in order to create a strong academic foundation. Since coming to the University, the program has grown in many ways, and we hope to continue growing, all while keeping in mind that a single book can change the course of a child’s life.
We believe that books can change the course of a child’s life. Every child deserves access to books, but more than that, they deserve to not have their education profoundly impacted by inadequate funding and resources. Our mission at My Very Own Library is to create access, eliminate inequity, and create supportive communities where students can grow as readers and scholars.
Now, more than ever, with the impact of COVID-19 on schools and public libraries, our mission is more important than ever. As the face of education is changing and access to educational materials becomes more limited, we are finding new and innovative ways to bring books to children.
Since 2011, My Very Own Library has sought to create programming for accelerating childhood literacy. From our first schools in Newark, New Jersey, My Very Own Library has expanded to six states across America, as well as to schools in the Dominican Republic. As our program continues to grow, we hope to continue serving more students and schools to increase access and equity.