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.
If 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.
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.