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Kathy Blumenfeld, Giri Venkataramanan and others gathered by the solar Little Free Library project
May 2, 2023

Department of Administration Secretary visits ECE’s solar library project

Written By: Jason Daley


In celebration of Earth Day 2023, Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld toured the Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps (GLCCC) in Racine to learn about the e-Little Free Library, a community project developed by GLCCC and engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The idea for the e-Little Free Library came from GLCCC, an organization that supports climate change solutions while providing education and training opportunities for disadvantaged populations in the Great Lakes area. GLCCC realized that there were not many public outlets for people to charge their phones and digital devices. So in the summer of 2021, the organization reached out to Giri Venkataramanan, WEMPEC Director and Keith and Jane Morgan Nosbusch Professor in electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison, about finding a solution. He and a group of students took on the challenge, eventually creating a design that combined a Little Free Library with a solar panel and charging equipment.

Since debuting last year in downtown Madison and at the GLCCC offices, inquiries about the libraries has grown. “We’re experiencing a groundswell of interest in the placement of the solar charging stations and will be listening to the community to ensure every voice is heard so we can achieve optimal coverage for use and benefit,” says GLCCC executive director and founder Chris Litzau.

During her visit, Blumenfeld discussed the project with Venkataramanan and learned about GLCCC’s other clean energy and green workforce development projects. “Innovation is what will make our clean energy future possible,” she says, “and the way that the GLCC project blends clean energy, sustainability, training, disaster preparedness and resiliency in one accessible package is nothing short of innovative and inspirational. My hope is that more communities build on this wonderful model.”

Featured image caption: DOA Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld (center, wearing red) spoke with Giri Venkataramanan (far right) about the solar Little Free Library project developed by GLCCC and UW-Madison engineers. Credit: Wisconsin Department of Administration.