Marcia Strykowski

Little Free Libraries

little-library-public-domainHave you run into any Little Free Libraries in your travels? I love these little boxes of delight scattered across the country and I hope to unveil one of my own someday. In 2009, Todd Bol built a tiny one-room schoolhouse for his mother, a teacher and avid reader. He attached it to the top of a post in his front yard in Wisconsin. Then he filled the little building with books and added a sign saying: Free Books. His little schoolhouse received a very positive response with requests for more. Inspired by this and those who came before them in support of free libraries and ‘take a book, leave a book’ collections, Todd and colleague Rick Brooks soon saw the full potential of this worthy enterprise. From this humble beginning there are now over 40,000 Little Free Libraries across the globe. little-free-lib-1Note the boogie boards used in this little library I came across last week by the ocean. And here’s another pretty one I discovered on Martha’s Vineyard.little-free-lib2-copylfb3-sideIf you do an online search, you’ll come up with some amazingly creative Little Free Libraries—from gorgeous cottages and castles to giant robots and even Snoopy’s doghouse. What a great method to share millions of books with curbside convenience.little-free-lib-2There are many ways to go about starting up your own Little Free Library with helpful pages on their website, as well as kits and finished models to purchase. Here is their mission statement: “To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.”little-free-lib-4There’s no need to put a lot of money into it, though. Building your own from wood scraps or using a recycled newspaper dispenser (many newspapers are discontinuing print and getting rid of their old vending boxes) are both economical ways to go. You can still register your library with the organization no matter what your finished product looks like. Once registered, you’ll be added to a map showing all the locations of Little Free Libraries—a fun way to discover if there might be one near where you live. While figuring out this post, I thought it might be fun to design a library inspired by all the sunflowers I blogged about last week. Here’s my attempt: lfl-design

72 Comments

  1. I found one in Georgia. 🙂

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    • I saw a picture of a very cute one in Georgia, had a whimsical Dr. Seuss style to it. I think it was connected to their main library.

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  2. Michele

    I love these and think they are just brilliant! I have found three in my neighbourhood.

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  3. I LOVE this post and the photos of the examples. I really like the beach one! I shared this on my FB page to remind myself that I need to get off my rear and get mine built. Thanks for posting this!!

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  4. I love your design. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a little free library, but the idea is marvelous.

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    • Aren’t these libraries a great idea? If you put your location into the map on their website, you can find out if there are any nearby for you to check out. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My girlfriend’s daughter got one for her birthday last year, it’s such a great idea!

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    • I bet she was thrilled, such a great gift. Thanks for sharing, Gary!

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  6. I have – but I think Book Exchanges is a more accurate name than Libraries. I do like the idea of recycling books though!

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    • Hmm, I wonder what the differences are. Exchanges sounds more like swapping to me, where as most of these are just ‘take one’ without necessarily replacing. Perhaps this particular organization doesn’t have as many set up across the pond, yet. Whatever we call them, it’s all good! 🙂

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      • I’ve seen them mainly in the US. Here, I’ve seen old phone boxes set up as Book Swaps. A library, to me, is a curated collection. We are maybe more sensitive about the term because many councils are closing libraries and some seem to think a few shelves of books shoved in a community centre or other public building is an adequate replacement “library”.

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        • Oh, okay, that makes sense. I guess the word ‘little’ might be the difference in terminology. So sorry to hear about your libraries closing. We feared that years ago, but around here big public libraries seem to be making a comeback with so much more than books to offer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Anabel.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. We have one in our neighborhood-they are so neat! I stuffed them full of each of my books for children of course, hoping to find some new readers in my own neighborhood!

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  8. These are great!! Chattanooga has several that have been set up at bus stops and different places around town. I hope to set one up outside our community center. Spread the love of books – call it what you like, it is all wonderful!

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    • Great idea to put one outside your community center, Joyce. Sounds like the ideal place for one!

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  9. mirkabreen

    I used to think this was a local thing, until my relatives in Jerusalem told me they were all over town there as well… LOVE these little “houses.”

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  10. I love these — I’ll have to check the map to see if there are any close to us. Your sunflower idea is adorable!

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  11. I love this, Marcia. I have heard of these, and you now bring them to life. Thank you! When I retire from teaching, I will do this.

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  12. Love your sunny library design, Marcia. I’ve run across a couple little book houses here on the island. So fun! Thanks for all the info. I’m going to check out that map.

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    • So glad you have them there, Pierr. Islands are the perfect place for mini libraries!

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  13. ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks

    These are absolutely adorable, Marcia. I love your sunflower design and wow, you’re good at digital art. (I don’t think I’ll be able to create an image digitally!) To find one of these free libraries at the beach would be such a highlight of that vacation!

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    • Thank you! I designed my book library in the ‘Paint’ program which is the only computer art I’ve figured out how to do, since it’s just a paint brush. Someday I hope to figure out photoshop and have one of those fancy stylus pens. 🙂

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  14. Rebecca C

    These are such a great idea! I wish we had them here in the UK. It’s possible we do but I’ve never come across one. I’ll keep looking and I’ll definitely be on the lookout next time I’m in the US.

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    • Aren’t they fun? Little Free Libraries are supposed to be worldwide, but I entered England into the map search and nothing came up. I did find one in Russia and a few other places. Thanks for your comment, Rebecca!

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  15. Ashley

    I love little librarys, too!! I see them when I go into the city. Your sunflower one is the best I’ve seen!! I hope you can build it!!

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  16. Love the little libraries! These pics are great.

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  17. Cool idea to take pictures of them. They’re popping up everywhere here in Nova Scotia, too. I often think I’d like to donate a book, but never seem to have one on hand when I need it!

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    • Glad to hear they are plentiful in Nova Scotia. Thanks for letting us know, Jan!

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  18. I love these. I’ve given to several of them around New England. I haven’t taken any books yet, though.

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    • That’s great that you’re helping them stay stocked. 🙂 I usually come upon them when I least expect to and without any books on hand.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I adore these little libraries! While I was walking my son’s dog, we went past a church right next to a large park, and I did a double-take when I saw the little library just beside the sidewalk that led into the church. Well, the dog would have none of that, so after we walked and I left the dog at home, I came back and spent quite some time browsing and organizing it (can’t help myself). I came away with a fascinating book and read it, and handed it off to my neighbor. Whenever I see these little libraries, it gives me a warm feeling!

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    • Wonderfully descriptive story of your experience of bumping into a little free library, thanks for sharing!

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  20. robinsonstef

    I have seen little free libraries in a few places and I love them. I recently saw one when I was visiting Decatur, GA. Such a lovely idea. I had no idea people could register them. I love that idea. Thanks for sharing. I love the one you made. 🙂

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    • I like how registering them brings all the little libraries together in one big united support of reading. Thanks so much for your kind comment and for visiting my blog!

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  21. I saw one of these on the rocky coast of Maine recently.

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    • Fun! One of my favorite locations, I’ll have to keep my eye out for a little library next time I’m on the coast. 🙂

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  22. Hi Marcia, I absolutely love your design for a little free library. Do you think you will build it one day? If so it would be great to see the finished product on your blog. I’ve seen libraries inside old telephone boxes in the UK but none like the ones you’ve shared here. By the way my favourite of the ones you shared is the one at the beach. I’ve often arrived somewhere like that and wished I had something to read – these little libraries would certainly solve that problem.

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    • Thanks, Barbara. I hope to have a little free library someday. I’m not sure if it will have a big sunflower on it, but you never know. I will post the finished product, for sure. I agree, beaches are a good place for grabbing a book. I’ll bet they get a good turnover of titles there. Libraries in telephone booths are great fun, too!

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  23. What fun Marcia!! I’m waiting to see a photo someday when you get that little sunflower library house made!! When I visited my daughter in Madison, Wisconsin this last summer, we saw several of these little free libraries around town! We have enough extra books around our house to support a library for years! I should get going… You find the best topics Marcia! hugs hugs.

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    • Great to know Madison, WI is bursting with little free libraries. We’ll have to both get going on our own little libraries. 🙂 Take care, Rhonda!

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  24. Colleen

    Love this post,Marcia! The photos are inspiring. Little Libraries is such a good idea for sending books out to other readers.

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    • Oh, thank you, Colleen! I think little libraries are a great idea, too. 🙂

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  25. Bette Norton

    I love Little Free Libraries! I have come across a few in my travels. I have seen them in Maine mostly and some in Vermont and New Hampshire. Great idea to have them registered so you can find out where they all are. Love your sunflower design! I look forward to seeing your post in the future of your Little Free Library. Wonderful idea to keep books in circulation and to build community. Fascinating facts of the history behind the Little Free Library. Delightful post! 🙂

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    • Glad you enjoyed the post. There does seem to be quite a few in Maine (I just checked the map 🙂 ). Thanks!

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  26. I loved the photos and learning the history behind this! People are very creative. 🙂

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    • There is quite a bit of creativity involved in the different styles. I guess a tiny house opens up so many more feasible possibilities for thinking outside the box.

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  27. I love these. They are using old phone boxes in the UK for little libraries. There is even a Little Library on the small island my daughter lives on in BC.

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  28. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    I’ve always wanted to add a copy of my book to one of these. I hope to do so in the future.

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    • I’ll keep my eye out for your name on the spine next time I run into a Little Free Library. 🙂

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  29. There’s was one down the road that my aunt lives on in Portland, OR. I noticed it when I went to visit her this last summer.

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    • It’s always fun to come upon little libraries when you least expect to. Thanks for letting us know they are in Portland, OR!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. I’m late to the discussion, Marcia, but wanted you to know I love this post. We have a Little Free Library up the street from us and there’s one in my brother’s neighborhood, too. Such a wonderful invention!

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  31. Reblogged this on 2 Cooks Crafting Books and commented:
    I think I’m going to have to get the boys to make me one of these when they are playing in the woodworking shop. What a fantastic way to share some great books!

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  32. These are so cute and generous and wonderful. I love libraries and this just adds another level of fun. 🙂

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