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A poetry reading by Lanier Elementary fourth-grade student Ellis Jackson at OSU-Tulsa’s unveiling of their new community library. (OSU-Tulsa)
A poetry reading by Lanier Elementary fourth-grade student Ellis Jackson at OSU-Tulsa’s unveiling of their new community library. (OSU-Tulsa)

Oklahoma State University-Tulsa unveiled a new literacy initiative today that provides free access to books to neighborhood children.

Free books for kids to keep

The “’Stache of Books Community Library” is a repurposed Tulsa World newspaper box located on the OSU-Tulsa campus near the neighboring Sunset Plaza apartments, making it easy for residents to find something new to read, according to a press release.

“Our new library will be located west of Parking Lot E just right by the fence line in the front, and anyone can get a book any time,” said Alnetta Morris, OSU-Tulsa community engagement specialist. “Just look for the orange newspaper vending machine, select a book or two, and it is yours to keep.”

Building an inclusive atmosphere

The box has been painted bright orange and decorated with “Stache of Books” decals, making it easy to spot – and appealing for young readers. While most of the books in the library are geared toward elementary and middle-school children, books for teenagers and even adults will also be available.

The goal is not only to provide free and convenient access to books to encourage reading, but also encourage members of the surrounding community to feel at home on the OSU-Tulsa campus.

“We are located here in the Greenwood District, and we want our neighbors to feel comfortable coming to campus, so we are excited about having this library,” said Pamela Fry, president of OSU-Tulsa. “We especially want children to feel comfortable coming to campus. They may choose to attend college—maybe even here—one day, so we want to start as early as possible.”

Greenwood now gentrified

Though located in the Greenwood District, many Greenwood residents feel OSU-Tulsa campus has taken over much of what used to be open fields for carnival rides and festivals. Gentrification has taken the majority of Greenwood out of the hands of Black people. Yet, it appears OSU-Tulsa is striving to be seen as a community member. To be sure, education is key to upward progress, and the new community library will offer a much-needed resource to neighborhood children.

OSU-Tulsa held a “Blankets and Books” drive for the ‘Stache of Books Community Library. Staff, faculty and students donated nearly 40 blankets along with books. The blankets were presented to management at Sunset Plaza Apartments to distribute to residents.

Books were also donated by Tulsa Talk, Read & Sing/Early Learning Works, First Baptist Church North Tulsa and Alpha Xi Sigma Tulsa Chapter/Sigma Gamma Rho. More than 400 books were donated overall.

Moreover, more than 50 children from local preschools and church groups attended the unveiling event, which featured a poetry reading by Lanier Elementary fourth-grade student Ellis Jackson, story time with President Fry and music by DJ J. Soule. Each child who attended received a new book to take home.

To donate to the ‘Stache of Books Community Library, contact Alnetta Morris at or 918-594-8305.

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...

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