Taking Books to the People, Part 1: Little Free Libraries

If you like books and reading, one of the best discoveries walking around a neighborhood or mall is the Little Free Library Program


Operating under a “Take a book, Return a book” philosophy, the Little Free Library Program began in 2009, when Tod Bol of Hudson, WI made the first Library in the shape of a one roomed school house in honor of his mother, who was a school teacher who loved to read. He filled the library with books and set it up in his front yard.  The concept proved so popular the he made other little libraries to give away.  Rick Brooke from the University of Wisconsin saw the do-it-yourself project and two decided to collaborate. Inspired by library philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the two of them used Carnegie’s original  goal of establishing 2,508 libraries as the same goal for the number of Little Free Libraries to be established by the end of 2013. (That goal was reached by August 2012).

The program has proven to be a success.  It has been awarded the Innovations in Reading Prize by the National Book Foundation and the two founders were listed as ALA Movers and Shakers in 2013.  They were picked up by many news sources including NBC Nightly News, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Readers’ Digest in 2014.  By 2016, they surpassed 50,000 registered Little Free Libraries worldwide.

UTC Little Free LIbraryIf you are interested in starting a Little Free Library, the website can help you out, including a variety of Little Free Libraries that you can buy, if you don’t want to build your own. It gives you tips for starting a library, what types of zoning requirements you may have to meet (it varies by location), what a steward (caretaker) is, how to stock, register and promote your library.

Free Little Library Book cover

In 2015, Margaret Aldrich, wrote The Little Free Library Book, which tells the story of the Little Free Library.  The book was published by Coffee House Press.  In addition to telling the history of the Little Free Library, it also offers hints on how to run a Little Free Library.

Have you ever used a Little Free Library?  Did you take a book or leave a book?  What did you read?  Join in the conversation and tell us where your favorite Little Free Library is.   Include a picture, too, if you have one.

7 thoughts on “Taking Books to the People, Part 1: Little Free Libraries”

  1. I love the Little Free Library. There are two in La Jolla Shores, and one is on my regular walk to the beach. I just returned a novel by John Grisham and picked up a book by Harold Robbins. I read half of it on Sunday. I like the Little Free library because I don’t like taking my Kindle to the beach, and I sometimes want to hold a physical book in my hands. And, I never keep any of the books I purchase–I always give them away. So Little Free Library appeals to me in every way. Another great post from you! Rachel

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Rachel. It’s always nice to hear that people are using the Little Free Library. KPBS had a feature on them last year. The write up lists several San Diego Little Free Libraries–one even has a Dr. Who motif. I found it by looking up LIttle Free Libraries San Diego on Google. Pat

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been aware of Little Free Libraries for some time but hadn’t truly paid much attention until you posted your article. It turns out that there are two of them here in my small community here in the wilds of Middle America. Who knew? Well, not me until last week. I’m still not quite sure how they stand up to the rigors of our northern climate — it’s not quite as hospitable as, say, southern California for leaving books outside — but they’re there. That probably says as much about the sturdiness of readers in this part of the world as it does about the Little Free Libraries themselves.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.