Thursday, April 19, 2012

Little Free Libraries

The dearest ones of time, the strongest friends of the soul-BOOKS.
Emily Dickinson

Imagine that your bus stop is not only a place where the free exchange of ideas happens, but where the free exchange of books transpires. That's the idea behind Little Free Libraries. Little Free Libraries is a project started three years ago in Madison, Wisconsin by Todd Bol who wanted to honor his mother, a former teacher and book lover. The concept is simple: Build a miniature house (bigger than a mailbox, smaller than a doll house), fill it with books, put it in a somewhat public place (at least a place that has some foot traffic), and see what happens. Little Free Libraries motto is "take a book, leave a book." 

Think of the possibilities. You stand at the bus stop and leave a book you just read, only to discover a fellow rider also read that book. A discussion ensues. Or, you start out on your walk with one book and return with another. You see what your neighbors are reading, and they, in turn, get an idea of what you like to keep on your bedside table.

I just discovered that my own community has one (and maybe even more than one). Crystal Springs is a walk I often take, so you can be sure that I'll be adding and subtracting to this library the next time I'm out.

Here's a close up of what was in there on Wednesday afternoon. 

For more information about Little Free Libraries, visit their website. So far they are in over 40 states, and more than 20 countries. Here's their mission:

  • To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.
  • To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.
  • To build more than 2510 libraries around the world--more than Andrew Carnegie. 

I absolutely love this idea! In an age where everything is transmitted electronically, there's something almost magical about an old-fashioned book exchange. Wouldn't it be great if we started seeing Little Free Libraries popping up everywhere?! 


  1. I love this, and the idea! When I have a minute to hone my carpentry skills, I am going to build one of these for my neighborhood. Or maybe I know someone who can build one...
    In the meantime Robin, I recently read a book called Hannah Coulter, by Wendell Berry. It's a very beautiful book, significantly about grief and wholly about gratitude. I think you would like it very much if you haven't read it already. Really, anything by Wendell Berry should be on every thinking adult's list.
    xx Jen

  2. Jen,
    Thanks for the Wendell Berry suggestion (I adore him, and have not heard of Hannah Coulter). Yes, I too, want to build one of these at the top of my road (or have one built). Hope to see them soon sprouting up all over the island.

  3. What a great idea! I've never heard of this.

  4. Robin,
    i agree - this is a great idea ... coincidentally, I just encountered one in Edmonds yesterday near the ferry landing