I’m a lover of libraries in all sizes and categories. Academic libraries put me in awe of all the specialized materials they house in those university walls. Museum libraries are often small but are a great resource for hidden, unusual gems like digitized images. City library branch libraries provide so much from programming to materials in all forms and fashion. Small, independent libraries have their own personal, local charm. But in the last few years, a new type of library has sprung up in increasing numbers. Small, book cabinets, called Little Free Libraries, provide book sharing practically in our backyards.
While I had seen these around me, I had never known that Little Free Libraries is actually a non-profit organization that started with the goal to provide more people with access to books. There are actually these small, unique libraries all over the world! There is even a grant opportunity application if you want to build one but need the funding. You can purchase a pre-made cabinet or find the plans to build one. There are ideas for community events related to these book sharing sites and ideas on how to promote them as well. Who knew?
Why are these small libraries becoming so popular? The idea is that these libraries are truly for everyone. No library card needed! There is no need to provide an address, proof of identification, or any other documentation. Often times, these are built in areas considered “book desserts.” Anyone walking by can just open up the cabinet, reach in, and grab a free book. Little Free Libraries can be found in pedestrian-friendly areas. This is book sharing in its simplest form.
Who builds these book-sharing cabinets? Often a youth organization such as a Boy Scout/Girl Scout troop provides the financial resources and physical resources to build one as a community service project. Sometimes a school club or organization spearheads one of these projects. Lions Clubs, businesses, university groups, churches, and so many more have donated time and money to provide a Little Free Library. There have been individuals who have gone solo in undertaking such a task.
These Little Free Libraries also bring together a sense of community. Once built, the locals keep it going. It’s so easy to donate a book that you have already read or that your son/daughter has outgrown. It provides a good feeling to have donated and added to a common, local cause. It also provides books from area people and that brings a connection. Who knew that someone close by also had a book from your favorite author? It makes you feel grateful to some unknown community member who provides a book that your son or daughter is delighted to receive. Is that Little Free Library looking a little low? It’s time to help out your neighbors by adding more books! Conversations also start around that Little Free Library that might not have started otherwise.
I recently thought of how many of these types of libraries were in my area. There is one in my very own subdivision in our community park. There is one at my local YMCA, city hall, one at three local elementary schools, an area coffee shop, and a few in surrounding neighborhood subdivisions. I know that the one in my neighborhood is used quite frequently. My ten year old daughter likes to check it out about every two weeks. She is thrilled when she finds something that she would like to read. She also likes to donate to it on the regular. I add to it at times as well with a novel I’ve finished or perhaps a magazine I’ve picked up. Yes, I’ve found something for myself at times! When we visit our community park, I always see someone checking it out. Our neighborhood social site always alerts us when our book supply is low and someone is always quick to donate.
You might want to check out a Little Free Library in your area. You might be surprised as to how many there are right in your own neighborhood. Often times, a short walk from your work, school, or home will get you to one of these small gems. The Little Free Library World Map provides a place to enter your zip code and find a registered library. So hop onto the site, grab the kids, and go for a walk to find a new book to read!