Have you heard of Little Free Libraries? Have you seen one on a neighbour’s yard? Individual designs vary, but they often look like over-sized bird houses perched on a wood stand. Inside they contain books.
Little Free Libraries are a way for neighbours to share their reading material. The idea is “take a book, leave a book”. In its simplest form, a Little Free Library is a weather-proof box of books set out for anyone to stop by, pick up a book (or two), and leave a book to share. Many are more elaborate than a simple box and cheerfully decorated.
A smile comes to my face every time I pass a Little Free Library or come across one in my travels. If I am walking, I stop to see what’s inside.
Little Free Libraries started in 2009 when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former schoolteacher who loved to read. He filled it with books and set in on a post in his front yard with a sign that said FREE BOOKS.
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, my home city, the public library keeps track of little free libraries throughout the city, based on information the library owners supply. There are at least 100 locations marked on the map on their website.
The Little Free Library organization website has information on how to create your own Little Free Library. At least one person should be designated as “steward” to make sure the library is stocked, clean, and inviting. You should check local zoning laws before putting it up. Although you want it accessible, placement should take into consideration things that may cover or damage it, such as snowplows. Several years ago, I took a Little Free Libraries tour offered by the Winnipeg Library. We were told owners of one library (the library in the feature photo at the front of this post) cleared a path through the snow to the library located on their front lawn in the winter.
People who have set up Little Free Libraries report meeting and talking with neighbours they’d not met or conversed with much to that point.
Do you have a Little Free Library near you?