Little Free Libraries

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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.

Little Free Library contained within the stump of an elm tree
This Little Free Library is made from an elm tree. It is located in an area of the city where streets were once lined with elm trees, but disease has resulted in the removal of many elms.

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.

Open Little Free Library box containing two shelves filled with books

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.

A Little Free Library with a bench to sit on beside it
This Little Free Library on a street not too far from me has a sitting area beside it

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?

Little Free Libraries. Sharing the love of literature with the community. Take a book, leave a book, borrow a book. #amreading #LittleFreeLibrary #books

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  1. Sherry said:

    I have only seen one Little Free Library. I love reading and while I was camping I had nothing to read except a novel already read. It was like this birdhouse like structure appeared when I needed it. I found a classic book worth rereading and it started my collection on other classics.
    Thank you for reminding me.

    January 24, 2020
    • Donna Janke said:

      Sherry, how fortuitous to come across that Little Free Library when you did! I hope you come across other Little Free Libraries in the future.

      January 29, 2020

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