Friday, October 10, 2014

Little Free Library

Over at my Town Office, you can register your car, pay your property taxes, get a burn permit–––and borrow a book. In the corner there is a bookcase, and residents can take a book or leave a book. I've seen arrangements like this lots of places, but it's really taken off in recent years in a new form: the Little Free Library.

The movement started small, when Wisconsinite Todd Bol built a tiny wooden one-room schoolhouse to house a small collection of books, and set it on a post in his front yard so that neighbors could borrow books from it. Todd's idea was inspired by his mother, who was a teacher and book lover.

Todd made more of the little book houses for others, with no thought at the time of going further. But later on, he and community activist, Rick Brooks, decided that this concept could be used to build literacy and strengthen neighborhoods. The Little Free Library movement was born.

Today there are at least 10,000 Little Free Libraries around the world. If you go to the Little Free Library website here, you can buy a ready-made Little Free Library for your neighborhood in styles from an Amish Barn, to a Scandinavian Cottage to a British Phone Booth.

Or you could build your own Little Free Library for your neighborhood. The LFL website gives you some advice on how to go about making your Little Free Library successful. Register your Little Free Library on the website and it'll be added to the organization's world map of LFL sites.

If you built a Little Free Library for mystery lovers, what would it look like? Maybe a safe, if you're a fan of capers. A reproduction of Miss Marple's cottage? A jail cell? I'd say a locked room would be good, since who wouldn't want to be locked in a room of mystery books, but then I remember that the whole point of a locked-room mystery is for someone to be killed in it. OK, let's scratch that idea from our design for a Little Free [Mystery] Library!


  1. I love the idea of these tiny free libraries, and I'm going to look into this. Our neighborhood could use one.

    There's an article in the New York Times this morning about another great idea for small libraries. In Portland, Oregon, there's a bicyclist/librarian called Street Books for "people living outside":

  2. Wow, how cool is that? That's a great idea.

    Our local public library has its own used bookstore, operated by the Friends of the Library, staffed entirely by volunteers and stocked with gently used books. It's done extremely well and raises a lot of money for the library. Whenever I'm in there, it's dangerous. It just adds to the dangerous oversupply of books in the house.

    We have a Little Free Library at the YMCA that was just started earlier this year. I think there are lots of places where they'd do well.

    Georgette, it would be great if you'd get a Little Free Library in your neighborhood. I hope you do it.