Friday, July 13, 2012

Little Free Library Movement: Books Creating Improved Face-to-Face Communities

Something interesting is happening with a movement that started about a year ago in Wisconsin, called the Little Free Library Movement. People put up small, free library boxes on their property, usually out by the edge of their front yard, and put books they own inside for others to stop by and borrow at will. That concept, itself, is certainly interesting, and as the experience has spread throughout the U.S., there seems to be a happy byproduct—positive face-to-face community interaction through sharing the books.

The Little Free Library Movement is a kind of amazing grass-roots effort. When you go on the website, you'll see that their mission is:

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 2,510 libraries around the world - more than Andrew Carnegie!

Here's how it's described in a recent newspaper article:
The book-sharing movement began about a year ago in Wisconsin and is creating ripples of goodwill in neighborhoods. 
The two men who started the Little Free Library are Rick Brooks, 64, and Todd Bol, 56.
Brooks is an outreach program manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He does a lot of workshops on everything from preventing lead poisoning to getting through to kids about drinking and driving. Bol's background is in developing businesses in foreign countries. 
In the fall of 2009, Bol happened to attend a workshop by Brooks, and then told him about a memorial he had built in his front yard in Hudson for his late mother, June Bol, a schoolteacher. It was in the shape of a little red schoolhouse, with a bell on top, and offered free books.
Bol soon found himself starting to make Little Free Libraries for others, having gone to an old barn that had been torn down and gotten trailer loads of wood. People loved the little buildings.
"They'd tell me they had met more people than in the last 10 years, 20 years, 30 years," Bol says.
By 2011, they were getting national publicity. This year, they hear every day about more of the hutches going up. . . .
Maybe in a few years, the Little Free Libraries will be remembered as just another fad.
For right now, though, Rick Brooks says about the little wooden structures that are spreading across the country, "This is obviously about more than just books. Something is going on."
(Seattle Times 7/12/12)

Do you have a Little Free Library participant in your neighborhood? I have to admit, I was not familiar with this until I read the Seattle Times article. But I'm kind of thrilled by it. Sometimes things happen that restore your faith in humans. They don't have to be big things, they can be little things, and they can make your heart full. This is a great Little one.


  1. I've never heard of this but I love the idea! Sounds like exactly what society needs today, a way to come together. And what better way than books?

  2. Linda, this is fantastic. I'm trying to think where we could do this. I've been off the radar and hadn't read the article. But... we should contemplate this a WNBA movement. What a great idea. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Great idea for WNBA, Karlene. Let's talk about it at the Board mtg. Tues. :)

  3. I think it's a great idea, but I don't know how well it would go over in my neighbourhood. I have a feeling that the whole box of books would be stolen and sold to some thrift store for cash..not that there's a lot of cash in thrift store books..but even a little cash is better than none, and some of these people are desparate...I mean, I don't live in a slum or anything, we just have a better than average amount of thiefery around here. I've been lucky though. Never had anything stolen, but a box of anything left out in the yard is just bait. Maybe if the books were in one of those little hutches it would work..I don't know. I do like the idea of it though..

    1. How frustrating, Eve! Yes, thievery is a problem in lots of neighborhoods, but maybe a thief would enjoy reading some good books, too? Books can change lives in some ways. Probably naive. Sigh.

    2. I would have the same thing on my street. If only the thieves would read. Maybe we could leave them a book on the ills of thievery.

  4. I am a Daisy Troop Leader in New Jersey and my Kindergarten girls will be creating a Little Free Library for their end of the year service project. I just fell in love with this idea.

    1. Yeah! I love it. Keep the love of books alive.

    2. That is fantastic. May your Little Free Library thrive and inspire others.