September 13, 2016

Mesa Supported Little Free Library Joins More Than 40,000 Worldwide

By Lauren J. Mapp

Sam Lee and Pegah Motaleb sit next to the new Mesa supported Little Free Library as Lee adds final touches on the design.

Organized by San Diego Mesa College English Assistant Professor Pegah Motaleb and painted by Mathematics Adjunct Professor Sam Lee, a new “Little Free Library” will be installed this month at the San Diego Cooperative Charter School in Linda Vista.


After seeing several Little Free Libraries throughout Hillcrest, South Park and Mission Hills – neighborhoods that Motaleb said are “prominent neighborhoods where the demographics are highly educated” – she knew that she wanted to bring the concept to her home neighborhood of Linda Vista.


"Promoting reading and literacy in neighborhoods, especially neighborhoods where the majority of residents are first generation immigrants, or individuals of color who are underserved by the education system, is so important,” Motaleb said. “For these individuals, education is the gateway to a life out of poverty. So it is my hope that the community embraces the little library, and knows that Mesa College is promoting literacy, and that Mesa College is here for them."


Motaleb’s idea to add a Little Free Library to the worldwide network became a reality through the help of funding from the San Diego Mesa Foundation, The American Federation of Teachers Guild (Local 1931), and the Mesa Honors Program. Lee – who spent the summer painting it – and Principal Sarah Saluta from the SDCCS – who is allowing the library to be installed outside of the tuition-free charter campus – were also quintessential to coordinating this project, according to Motaleb.


Encouraging patrons to “take a book, return a book,” the purpose of the Little Free Library system is “to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations,” according to their website.


Lee’s whimsically painted landscape on the library’s exterior was inspired by the memories of reading with his family.


“My design was inspired by the memory of my mother reading to me when I was a child, and the memory of my reading to my daughter when she was a little child – those remain as my most precious memories,” Lee said. “I hope when children see this picture they will want their parents to read to them. The butterfly design was inspired by the event of my daughter saying the final good-bye to a butterfly as it flew away after hatching from a cocoon she purchased from the San Diego Wild Animal Park to help preserve the butterfly habitat in Costa Rica. I hope when people see this picture they will feel the closeness to the natural habitat of butterflies and ladybugs and want to make sure it won’t disappear.”


The Little Free Library at the San Diego Cooperative Charter School will join the 85 locations in San Diego County and more than 40,000 locations around the world.


For more information regarding the Little Free Library, visit

Tags: Free Library, Promoting Literacy, Little Free Library

Additional Information


Jennifer Nichols Kearns
Director of Communications
(619) 388-2356

Pegah Motaleb
Assistant Professor, Department of English