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Little Free Libraries: “You Can’t Steal a Free Book.”

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lkmccray

On Christmas morning when I was ten, I was seriously delighted when an inkpad and an adjustable-date rubber stamp tumbled from my Christmas stocking. Combining these two items with index cards and an old recipe-card box meant I had all I needed to play my favorite game: library. I meticulously wrote a card for each of my books, then forced my little sisters to act the role of library patrons and “check out” books, just so I could stamp a due date on the cards with a satisfying thump, alphabetize them, and squirrel them away in my card box. I was a happy camper, though I may have scarred my sisters for life — today we rarely discuss what we’re reading.

While my childhood fantasies of being a librarian never materialized, my love of libraries never waned. That’s why I was enchanted with Little Free Libraries, an idea started by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, as a tribute to his mom, June A. Bol, a teacher. In 2009, he built a small schoolhouse-shaped structure, filled it with books, and mounted it on a pole.

Since that first structure bearing the sign “Take a book, return a book” appeared in Bol’s front yard, the number of Little Free Libraries has grown to more than 1,500. They can be found in more than 40 states and 20 countries. Bol and his friend Rick Brooks, co-founder of Little Free Libraries, hope to surpass the 2,509 libraries created by steel baron and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. (Of course, Carnegie’s libraries were all life-sized.)

While it’s possible through the Little Free Libraries website to buy finished libraries, as well as plans for creating the structures from new lumber and shingles, original designs and recycled materials are strongly encouraged. Many little libraries resemble large, fanciful birdfeeders; others conjure barns, canoes, or British phone booths and include fanciful touches like mosaics and murals. Most have a plexi-glass front door through which “patrons” can see the 20 to 50 books resting inside. They are water- and weather proof and bear the “Take a book, return a book” inscription Bol attached to his first structure.

Little Free Libraries

A steward with a library.

When a new library “registers” with the Free Little Library organization, it gets an official number and is added to a Google map where patrons can search for nearby libraries, see photos and stories about each library, and find information about the library’s steward — the person who maintains the library and its collection. Stewards report little trouble with Little Free Libraries (as it says on the org’s website, “You can’t steal a free book”). They may occasionally replace a broken door, but most often they say the libraries have helped them get to know neighbors they’ve never met, when they stop to peruse the collection or donate a book.

Little Free Libraries

Discovering a new favorite.

That community connection is a main mission of the organization founded by Bol and Brooks. They also hope the libraries will promote literacy and a love of reading. Patrons seem to delight in donating favorite books, providing their neighbors with a chance to read (and potentially discuss) them. There’s also an opportunity for those who build the structures to come together: architects, scout troops, carpenters, and neighbors can share advice and information on design and construction through the Neighborhood Library Builders Facebook page.

Little Free Libraries

Children enjoying a neighborhood free library.

The libraries benefit more than those in the neighborhood in which they’re built. With the success of Little Free Libraries, the founders created the GIFT (Give It Forward Team), which supports Little Free Libraries in communities that may not be able to afford one. Little Free Libraries also is a strong proponent of public library use — after all, you can only fit so much into a little library.

I know as a child I would have found these book-holding boxes magical (even if they didn’t provide the opportunity to stamp a due date in each volume). And maybe if my sisters and I could meet up at a Little Free Library, free of the requirement that they check out books just because I say so, we’d start talking books again. It’s worth a try.

More Posts on Alternative Economies

A lifelong sewer/knitter and former weaver/spinner, Linzee Kull McCray, a.k.a. lkmccray, is a writer and editor living in Iowa. She feels fortunate to meet and write about people, from scientists to stitchers, who are passionate about their work. Her freelance writing appears in Quilts and More, Stitch, UPPERCASE, American Patchwork and Quilting and more. For more textile musings, visit her blog.

4 Featured Comments

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  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown says: Featured

    Some things -- and some people -- restore your faith in human kind. What a charming concept. It's sort like geocaching -- for knowledge!

    1 year ago

  • ME2Designs

    Meg from ME2Designs says: Featured

    This is a wonderful project and it's great how the idea has grown so that the program can be utilized throughout the US! In Sarasota, FL the library system has had a "Read it and Pass it on" program for - thousands of used library books & donated books are put on small bookshelves in the transit buses, at public locations throughout the county, etc. Anyone can pick up a book to read and then pass it on to someone else (the books all have a bright yellow Read it and Pass it on sticker on the cover. Also, the library has an annual "One Book - One Community" each summer. Residents can vote on which of six books will be the read, and the winner book is read by the community and then discussed in numerous small group locations. The program expands the world of the reader; then by talking about the book with others in the community adds richness and depth to the experience of reading; with the information strengthening the community, as the sense of community is developed around the shared experience of reading and talking about one great book.

    1 year ago

  • LittleAppleNY

    Dione from LittleAppleNY says: Featured

    I just love this. I've left so many just-finished books on subway platforms hoping that others may take them and enjoy them. I wish there were cute little boxes to put them in.

    1 year ago

  • GraysonDesigns11

    GraysonDesigns11 from GraysonDesigns11 says: Featured

    It sounds like this article has planted many seeds for new free libraries. I think they are going to exceed their goal for these little treasures. I have a feeling my family will be contributing as well!

    1 year ago

  • heatherllevin

    Heather Levin from petticoatplease says:

    I love this idea so much! I saw something similar on Treehugger. Those mini-libraries are not only sharing books and the love of reading, but they also beautify the community. Thanks for the great post!

    1 year ago

  • KiraFerrer

    Kira Ferrer from KiraFerrer says:

    Wonderful idea!

    1 year ago

  • mattyhandmadecrafts

    Matejka Max from NattyMatty says:

    Fantastic idea!!!

    1 year ago

  • StringBeardCraftery

    Stephanie from StringBeardCraftery says:

    I was the kind of kid that would read under the covers by night light and wake with the my face still resting on that open book. I am definitely going to put one of these awesome little fixtures in my neighborhood. It really saddens me that fewer and fewer children nowadays have found their way into a book, and that fewer and fewer parents are encouraging their children to read for leisure. I absolutely adore this idea, and am proud to know that I will be a part of it in the near future.

    1 year ago

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage says:

    Great idea! Especially when library funding is under siege.

    1 year ago

  • pinkdixie

    Shannon from pinkdixie says:

    This sounds so great and..... my house is right next to the elementary school. Could be a match made in heaven.

    1 year ago

  • wwfjr

    Wilbur W from wilbursvintage says:

    GREAT Work, and Fantastic IDEA! I thank you, for this Wonderful message.

    1 year ago

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown says: Featured

    Some things -- and some people -- restore your faith in human kind. What a charming concept. It's sort like geocaching -- for knowledge!

    1 year ago

  • studiorandom

    Dana Seilhan from studiorandom says:

    We have something like this at the Clintonville Community Market here in Columbus. It's not an outdoor structure but a shelf just inside the front door. But they could easily move it outside so it was available at all hours. I should put a bug in their ear. And I'm sure we could use another half-dozen of these around town. We have one of the country's best public library systems, but that doesn't mean people don't still want to own books as well.

    1 year ago

  • lavenderave

    Jennifer from lavenderave says:

    thanks for the fabulous post on these amazing little local libraries! My son is hoping to build one of the Little Free Libraries and install it at a local bus transit center as his Eagle Project. We sure hope that the transportation people will like the idea as well as we do!

    1 year ago

  • Jadessugartree

    Karla from Jadessugartree says:

    This is so charming! I love books and love to read. I will build one of this and register it. I think my neighborhood will like it! Awesome idea and great message!

    1 year ago

  • volkerwandering

    Jess from volkerwandering says:

    I think this is how libraries should be. Very few books do I want to read over & over, so it would be nice to trade them out for new ones, free of charge!

    1 year ago

  • whatemilymakes

    Emily E. from ZiggyAndZoop says:

    What an amazing idea!

    1 year ago

  • FannyElizabethDesign

    Diane Elizabeth from FannyElizabethDesign says:

    Amazing! I am so inspired... thank you:)

    1 year ago

  • theheirloomaddict

    theheirloomaddict from TheHeirloomAddict says:

    Very Inspirational!

    1 year ago

  • klb00e

    Mother Lark from MotherLark says:

    This is the most amazing thing! Community, learning, trust, and cuteness! I love it. Way to go Little Free Libraries.

    1 year ago

  • ImYourNonny

    holly mcgee from ImYourNonny says:

    What a great idea!!! I'm thinking of children who might be reluctant readers...books presented in such a way...housed in fairy-like wee settings...might have a whole new appeal for them!!!

    1 year ago

  • CafePrimrose

    Amanda Gynther from CafePrimrose says:

    Fabulous! If the US government won't give us access to free education, we just give it to ourselves and share it amongst us all! Beautiful article and fantastic concept! I am in love! I will buy one of these when i get home and set it up in my front yard.

    1 year ago

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie says:

    That is awesome! My 7 year old daughter loves to read and we go to the library every week. She would think this is so cool!!!

    1 year ago

  • bagladybooty

    bagladybooty from bagladybooty says:

    What a wonderful project. I'm a freelance writer, and also an avid reader. I never knew about this project. I appreciate your post. I only wish, that I'd thought of this innovative idea first!

    1 year ago

  • LaMeowVintage

    Regan from LaMeowVintage says:

    Cute and clever idea.

    1 year ago

  • AHSC

    Amy from AHSC says:

    Love this idea! I would have be thrilled to have something like this to visit when I was little (ok... I still would!)

    1 year ago

  • hypericumfragile

    Monika from hypericumfragile says:

    Fantastic idea! Thank you!

    1 year ago

  • ErikaPrice

    Erika from ErikaPrice says:

    What an amazing idea! We have so many books I have to hide new ones from DH, and this is a fantastic way to re-use and recycle something that lots of people love. Would you mind if I adopted your idea (but on a very much smaller and local scale) in my village?

    1 year ago

  • Ebrown2503

    Eleanore from FiberBeads says:

    People are SO awesome! Don't ever EVER let go of your library, modest as it might be. Can you imagine trying to find funding for the concept of libraries in this day and age? If we tried to invent it now, it would be a very hard sell. Kudos to Todd Bol and his beautiful mom for this wonderful spot of humanity.

    1 year ago

  • littlehouseshoppe

    littlehouseshoppe from littlehouseshoppe says:

    Such a wonderful idea! I think I will start one in my community!

    1 year ago

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery says:

    Great idea, love the concept of being able to loan and replace books in the community a nice way of sharing books you love!

    1 year ago

  • Reallycricket

    Cricket Vauthier Roemer from ReallyCricket says:

    I love this idea! What a wonderful way to share books with your community.

    1 year ago

  • 4EnvisioningVintage

    Tracy from 4EnvisioningVintage says:

    As a book worm myself I love this idea! Shared ~

    1 year ago

  • PinkCheetahVintage

    PinkCheetahVintage from PinkCheetahVintage says:

    This is so awesome!!!

    1 year ago

  • laurastark

    Laura Stark from laurastark says:

    I love the concept of “Take a book, return a book”! My best book find was in a hotel in Rome. The in room shelf housed books of all languages for people to take and leave. I left with an amazing book by a British author!

    1 year ago

  • vitamini

    Casey Starks from vitamini says:

    That's so cool! I know if I had one in my neighborhood I'd donate to it frequently. I have two librarians in my family (my sis and my mom) and since I've moved to a more walkable town find myself taking strolls to the local library once a week! Libraries are wonderful resources and have so much to offer patrons. And these mini libraries are great little local resources for books, sharing, and community pride.

    1 year ago

  • PopLoveCouture

    Shai Wallach from PopLoveCouture says:

    This is an absolutely spectacular initiative. For years, I've hunted down street corners looking for those little boxes of books people leave out when they're closet-cleaning or moving. There's so many spectacular little novels - some trashy, some bizarre and just every so often, some amazing little books. Used books have such a character to them, as much as I love my tablet, I don't think I'll ever stop reading real books. I love this initiative - it's got all the charm of those corner boxes, with a little more respect and a lot more protection from the elements!

    1 year ago

  • windycitynovelties

    Windy City Novelties says:

    This is such a great idea! I just checked and there isn't one Lake County, IL at all. I think this should change soon! Thanks for the share!

    1 year ago

  • PatternsAndPlans

    PatternsAndPlans from PatternsAndPlans says:

    Great idea, especially for rural communities. However, I hope it doesn't eventually replace our libraries.

    1 year ago

  • gallerydarrow

    Rochelle Darrow from gallerydarrow says:

    I LOVE this!

    1 year ago

  • VintageBowBoutique

    Kathryn Ryan from VintageBowBoutique says:

    What an amazing idea! I love how it seems to bring communities together more!

    1 year ago

  • reflectionsjewelry

    Emily Delfin from reflectionsjewelry says:

    Wonderful idea! Iooking to see if there is one in my area..................

    1 year ago

  • SalvatoCollection

    Amanda from SalvatoCollection says:

    Best Idea EVER!!!!

    1 year ago

  • buttagal

    LC from cafedebutta says:

    What a fantastic idea. More communities need to do this!

    1 year ago

  • eatlllagar

    Desirea Holton from eatAGAR says:

    Yea! I want to start one in Georgetown, but the library here is already pretty rockin'. Maybe if I move to Silver Plume...

    1 year ago

  • loopyboopy

    loopy from loopyboopy says:

    I have one of these in my neighborhood and I love it!

    1 year ago

  • elitas

    Carol from elitasvintage says:

    love love love!

    1 year ago

  • BlueSquiggle

    Monique Flannagan from BlueSquiggle says:

    Awesome project! Can't believe there isn't one of these in SD or the OC!

    1 year ago

  • scrapbookcompleted

    Janelle Dauenhauer from scrapbookcompleted says:

    What a great idea! Someone started one in our community, I just haven't visited it yet!

    1 year ago

  • MaggiePaggieDesigns

    Rebecca from MaggiePaggieDesigns says:

    What a beautiful story - love this!

    1 year ago

  • lythamsnowdrops

    Lauren Kinter from lythamsnowdrops says:

    One of these just popped up at our neighborhood park!

    1 year ago

  • maaretsinkko

    maaret sinkko from maaretsinkko says:

    thank you foir sharing this amazing story! now I am inspired to do the same...so many books so little time. my son told me the other day 'i love books' and i thought...my work here is done!

    1 year ago

  • ME2Designs

    Meg from ME2Designs says: Featured

    This is a wonderful project and it's great how the idea has grown so that the program can be utilized throughout the US! In Sarasota, FL the library system has had a "Read it and Pass it on" program for - thousands of used library books & donated books are put on small bookshelves in the transit buses, at public locations throughout the county, etc. Anyone can pick up a book to read and then pass it on to someone else (the books all have a bright yellow Read it and Pass it on sticker on the cover. Also, the library has an annual "One Book - One Community" each summer. Residents can vote on which of six books will be the read, and the winner book is read by the community and then discussed in numerous small group locations. The program expands the world of the reader; then by talking about the book with others in the community adds richness and depth to the experience of reading; with the information strengthening the community, as the sense of community is developed around the shared experience of reading and talking about one great book.

    1 year ago

  • slathered

    Sharon Moores from slathered says:

    I really want to do this! (And as a former newspaper editor, I love the picture of the old newspaper box that's been turned into one.) This is also a great solution to the unmanageable pile of books that takes over the basement stairs before I get to the used-book store.

    1 year ago

  • cookbookthe1

    Luis Gutierrez from BeingStrange says:

    Very cool!

    1 year ago

  • Caitiec23

    Caitie and Jamie C. from NuitHiboux says:

    What a nice idea!

    1 year ago

  • LavenderThimble

    Michelle from LavenderThimble says:

    This is such a great idea! Thanks for posting this. Whenever I land into my new neighborhood, I would love to set one up. I've been trying to figure out what to do with the books that I've read for my book club, and this is the perfect solution.

    1 year ago

  • lovelyfeverboutique

    Jessica from LovelyFever says:

    What an amazing article! I had no idea that there were these adorable "little libraries" all over the country! I really love the concept of a little community library and will be sure to try to find more information about them to see if there is any way to get involved. I also can relate to how the article author would play "library" as a child-- as a life-long avid reader myself, I too used to play a similar game when I was a kid.

    1 year ago

  • lovelyfeverboutique

    Jessica from LovelyFever says:

    What an amazing article! I had no idea that these "little libraries" existed and were all over the country! I will be sure to find out more about these and see if there is any way to get involved. I also loved how the author of the article wrote about playing "library" as a child--as a life-long avid reader myself, I too used to play librarian with my books and sisters as a kid. Thanks for sharing. This put a smile on my face!

    1 year ago

  • LittleAppleNY

    Dione from LittleAppleNY says: Featured

    I just love this. I've left so many just-finished books on subway platforms hoping that others may take them and enjoy them. I wish there were cute little boxes to put them in.

    1 year ago

  • Shortsupply

    Candi from Shortsupply says:

    I did the EXACT same thing with my adjustable date stamp as a kid!!! ;)

    1 year ago

  • karenthimot

    Karen Thimot says:

    This a precious idea! A place to lovingly share the passion of reading.... how about that!

    1 year ago

  • picklevalentine

    Libby Stone from PickleValentine says:

    How did I miss this? Maybe dh and I will make one.

    1 year ago

  • BonTons

    BonTons from BonTons says:

    Love this! Such a wonderful idea

    1 year ago

  • mimishingleton

    Mimi from aTreasureInStore says:

    I want to do this! My little free library would be shaped like a tobacco barn and start off with Little House on the Prairie books...my favs in elementary school.

    1 year ago

  • DaisyandFlorrie

    Sue from DaisyandFlorrie says:

    L O V E !

    1 year ago

  • msbibliotecaria

    Adriana the Librarian from labiblioteca says:

    Well as a librarian myself, I absolutely love this idea. I want one in my neighborhood!! :)

    1 year ago

  • oceanityhandmade

    Michelle Cornelison from oceanityhandmade says:

    Amazing! Thanks for such a good post.

    1 year ago

  • LayOffTheBooks

    Cathy from LayOffTheBooks says:

    I love this idea, great post! I've seen similar projects before, it's a wonderful way to share your love of reading.

    1 year ago

  • fibrous

    Thea from fibrous says:

    What a really sweet idea! btw, I played bookseller with my siblings...

    1 year ago

  • HelloMountains

    Audrey from HelloMountains says:

    clever and cute!!! We need to make this in France!

    1 year ago

  • Mitmunk

    Mitmunk Design from Mitmunk says:

    These are so fantastic, supported simply by the idea of sharing resources. There is one of these along our daily route that we frequent. We can always find a diverse range of books in there, and when we have books we're done with, it's nice to be able to contribute something back to the book cupboard. The bottom shelf is reserved for children's books :)

    1 year ago

  • MadeAtNanasHouse

    Made At Nana's from MadeAtNanasHouse says:

    I thought this post was one of the best I have ever read, thank you, for the first time ever, I posted a post to my facebook.. that is how great I thougth this one is. My family owens two stores here in the mountains of Az. I just showed Papa this posting to tell him "this is your "SUNDAY" projects" to make to have in front of both of our stores.. what a fantastic ideal, thank you so much for sharing it with the world... Nana

    1 year ago

  • gardenmis

    Priscilla from Gardenmis says:

    Such a lovely idea!! I loved volunteering in my school library as a young girl and my love of books has never waned either.

    1 year ago

  • ElenaMary

    Elena Mary Siff from ElenaMary says:

    Wonderful! Great project for kids...to create their own free library structure and manage it...in the virtual world our kids live in too often, a real free book can be a treasure!

    1 year ago

  • AnnmarieScottSilver

    Annmarie Scott from AllAboutStory says:

    Love it! What a wonderful thing to do...I can see these little free Libraries popping up around school communities too - an extension of 'book swaps' that take place with friends. What is a good book if not well thumbed! Cheers :)

    1 year ago

  • LineaLina

    Susanne Major from LineaLina says:

    Such a cute thing! What a marvelous idea!

    1 year ago

  • PinkDragonflyCrafts

    Rocky from PinkDragonflyCrafts says:

    I love this idea, it is just lovely. I would delight in the opportunity to participate in one of these little libraries. Libraries don't seem to get much love nowadays. A little stand like this might entice a new reader who might otherwise be intimidated by a public library to pick out a book and discover the joys of reading. Movies and video games cannot compete with a good book (and this is coming from a game freak and movie lover!). :)

    1 year ago

  • noaost

    Noa Osterreicher from noasjewelry says:

    Oh, that is so wonderful

    1 year ago

  • HelloShoes

    HelloShoes from HelloShoes says:

    I love this idea. I also love my library...They have a starbucks..not kidding:)

    1 year ago

  • shuqi

    Emily Lim from shuqi says:

    love the idea. hope my town will have this also.:)

    1 year ago

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie says:

    Lovely!

    1 year ago

  • PoetryofObjects

    PoetryofObjects from PoetryofObjects says:

    Just simply wonderful! We're going to create one of these little bits of magic! Thank you so much for the article...and for the idea of community!

    1 year ago

  • redemptionart

    Connie Haskell from redemptionart says:

    OMG! I thought I was the only kid "neighborhood librarian" LOL! I even went as far as inviting neighborhood friends over to "borrow" my books...it really worked! I am in love with this...on my "must do" list! Thanks!

    1 year ago

  • AshleighEllan

    Ashleigh-ellan Kavanagh from AshleighEllan says:

    Can't believe there is only ONE of these in the UK. I'll be making a change to that!

    1 year ago

  • warnellcreations

    warnellcreations from warnellcreations says:

    That is a wonderful concept! I absolutely love to read and I am at my local library at least 2 to 3 times each week. The library is a great source for books, magazines and CD's/DVD's for my business.

    1 year ago

  • warnellcreations

    warnellcreations from warnellcreations says:

    That is a great concept! I absolutely love to read. I go to my local library at least 2 to 3 times each week. The library is a great resource for books, CD's/DVD's for my business.

    1 year ago

  • DressEmporium

    DressEmporium says:

    What a unique and amazing idea!

    1 year ago

  • PattiTrostle

    Patti Trostle from PattiTrostle says:

    Love it!!

    1 year ago

  • rivahside

    rivahside says:

    I'm sure Ben Franklin would be impressed!

    1 year ago

  • my2handsstudio

    Donna from my2handsstudio says:

    Being a library lover myself, since the time as a small child,and to this day checking out ten to fifteen books at a time. I love this idea and will see if my husband will build one for me.

    1 year ago

  • lcarlsonjewelry

    Liesl Carlson from lcarlsonjewelry says:

    I heard about this awhile ago and thought it was the most wonderful idea. I am a avid library goer as is my three year old son. This is amazing!!!

    1 year ago

  • GraysonDesigns11

    GraysonDesigns11 from GraysonDesigns11 says: Featured

    It sounds like this article has planted many seeds for new free libraries. I think they are going to exceed their goal for these little treasures. I have a feeling my family will be contributing as well!

    1 year ago

  • samsnatural

    Sam's Natural from SamsNatural says:

    That is co cute! Might have to have one of our own :)

    1 year ago

  • treasurebooth

    Kelly from treasurebooth says:

    So neat--I saw one of those pop up in my former neighborhood of Edmonds, WA just before I moved out of state. What a fun concept and sweet tribute! PS Your first paragraph made me smile--I played library too! Such satisfaction from rubber stamps, blank cards, and a stack of old books :)

    1 year ago

  • haneyjo

    JO Haney from Mixxr says:

    Great idea !

    1 year ago

  • AvasYellowRainBoots

    April Foss from AvasYellowRainBoots says:

    What a sweet idea!

    1 year ago

  • EmiliaFaith

    Edie Ann from OhHoneyHush says:

    Wow, What a wonderful idea!! :)

    1 year ago

  • BlueMoonLights

    Alexandra Simons from BlueMoonLights says:

    What a great idea! Thank you for the post :)

    1 year ago

  • PyxusPassionProject

    Michelle Maynard from SimonesRoseBoutique says:

    How awesome is that?! Fantastic.. thanks for sharing!!

    1 year ago

  • shopgoodgrace

    Teresa from shopgoodgrace says:

    Incredibly inspiring! Thank you for sharing - and spreading the word... what a wonderful way to build "community" - and foster goodwill.

    1 year ago

  • FWBluxuries

    Krissy Joy from FWBluxuries says:

    YES! this is great!

    1 year ago

  • customizeBaby

    Custom Baby from customizeBaby says:

    BEAUTIFULLLLLLLLLLLLL CREATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 year ago

  • StudioBotanica

    Cristy Beck from StudioBotanica says:

    This post just warms my heart, how cool.

    1 year ago

  • myMountainStudio

    Nikki Weiss from myMountainStudio says:

    What a neat concept. My husband and I have so many books, I've often thought it would be neat to have a small private library with them so others could benefit from our collection as well. (We had someone in a nearby town do that in the past.) This would be a neat way to do that someday if we end up in a better location for doing so. Would be quite interesting indeed. Thanks for sharing the idea... I'm bookmarking it for future use. :)

    1 year ago

  • montanagirl

    Carmen from MontanaGirl says:

    Our elementary school holds a used book sale every year and each child is allowed to pick out one book for free. Watching them choose just the right one was one of my favorite experiences as a volunteer. Books are a powerful thing.

    1 year ago

  • bettylamberson1

    Betty Lamberson from StongateCottage says:

    This is a wonderful idea! we hope to build one of these on the grounds of our Depot Museum..of course in the shape of a minature train depot! Our tiny town does not have a public library, even though we have a reading corner in our Museum, the nearest library, except of course the school library, the nearest Public library is 10 -12 miles away.

    1 year ago

  • ccruze25

    Caroline Cruze from PoorLittleButterfly says:

    This is a marvelous idea! I have enjoyed reading since I was a little girl. I can't think of a better way to give back to the young kids in my neighborhood! I'm going to look into my subdivision's Home Owners Association to see if it is allowed! I love the idea of sharing books. They truly are magical. Thank's for the great post!

    1 year ago

  • RodaLuLu

    Rhonda from RodaLuLu says:

    I would love to sponsor one of these in my community. So inspiring.

    1 year ago

  • pezzazz

    pezzazz from pezzazz says:

    This is the nicest things I've seen all day! I would so love to do this, but how to make it work in a condo complex? Perhaps in my next home.

    1 year ago

  • pezzazz

    pezzazz from pezzazz says:

    *thing

    1 year ago

  • birdie1

    Laurie from BirdinHandVTG says:

    One of the sweetest things I've ever seen! What an inspiration!

    1 year ago

  • Lyla79

    Ionelia Liliana Balan from Victoar says:

    very good ideea; good luck :)

    1 year ago

  • lollyjodesigns

    Stacey B from lollyjodesigns says:

    This is so great!! I'm going to check out the one 20 minutes from my house, and bring a few books I'm done with. Thanks for sharing this!

    1 year ago

  • cottonbirddesigns

    Angela Cotton from CottonBirdDesigns says:

    Lovely article!

    1 year ago

  • RavensCrafts

    Jane from RavensCrafts says:

    Awesome! I'm going to do this!

    1 year ago

  • bordellobarrettes

    bordellobarrettes from bordellobarrettes says:

    My sister and I used to play library too! What a great article and idea!

    1 year ago

  • fbstudiovt

    Laura Hale from fbstudiovt says:

    A dear friend of mine who was an insatiable reader and a frequent lender of books, died suddenly a few days ago. I'm going to build a little library for my front yard in his memory. He would have loved this idea.

    1 year ago

  • hollygatto

    hollygatto from hollygatto says:

    What a wonderful idea! I love it!

    1 year ago

  • ScrapHappyLyrebird

    Tess from GildedNotes says:

    I love when you realize that you weren't the only one who did something others found a little strange as a child! I too had my own "library" at the end of the hallway called the "Ladybug Library" (the only stamp I owned was a ladybug shape). Thank for sharing your story as well as introducing me to this awesome concept...I'm off to Google to see if there are any near me!

    1 year ago

  • SETdesign

    S.E.T. from SETdesign says:

    This is a fantastic idea! I am completed jazzed about the whole concept and already have several ideas on how I will construct one. Now, to my sketchbook and workshop to make this happen! Can't wait!! @Meg - I live right next door to you and had no idea Sarasota had a program like that! I am definitely going to check it out and see if I can get involved.

    1 year ago

  • louieirn

    louieirn says:

    Love this idea but right now I live in a neighborhood that won't allow one. BUT I will be building my own Library at my next home that will hopefully be in the Seatle area... someday!! Thanks for sharing!!

    1 year ago

  • TheSeaCottage

    TheSeaCottage from TheSeaCottage says:

    OMG! This is great! I've long been a library advocate, and even worked in one for awhile, but I love the idea of people offering this to their neighborhoods. I'm going to see what I can do to start up one.....C:

    1 year ago

  • TheSeaCottage

    TheSeaCottage from TheSeaCottage says:

    I love this idea! I've long been a library advocate, and even worked in one for awhile, but this is a convenient idea for people in neighborhoods who don't visit the library because it's too far out of the way. Thanks for sharing this.....

    1 year ago

  • BCbuzz

    BCbuzz from BCbuzz says:

    Love this concept, curiosity keeps us young!

    1 year ago

  • annyschoo

    anny schoo from annyschooecoclothing says:

    Neat idea! Love the story.

    1 year ago

  • accidentalcharm

    Sandra Park from accidentalcharm says:

    YAY! i'm going to go buy the one in my town today. this is awesome. :)

    1 year ago

  • hmeyerboothby

    Heather Meyer Boothby from TheHalfKnittedPine says:

    Your blogs are absolutely the B-E-S-T!! Fellow Iowegian, you make me proud to wear the yellow and black!!

    1 year ago

  • KABowtique

    Karla from KABowtique says:

    I'm in love with this idea! It would be an amazing project :)

    1 year ago

  • Birchangel

    Joylyn McChesnie from BirchangelPinatas says:

    I saw these on the local news a while back....great idea!

    1 year ago

  • TheUglyBarnFarm

    TheUglyBarnFarm from TheUglyBarnFarm says:

    I read about these on the TinyHouseBlog featured on there just today! Very cool idea.

    1 year ago

  • pascal4aqua

    Merle Pace from MerlePaceArts says:

    ack-love this! a dream come true to read about this! i have been wanting to do something like this and wasn't sure how to go about it-thanks so much for the inspiration!

    1 year ago

  • LilsvilleNY

    arica mann and angie toscano from LilsvilleNY says:

    What a fantastic idea! I saw one of these in a neighbor's yard and wondered about it, but didn't want to venture onto their property. Now I will check it out! :)

    1 year ago

  • laurahdrapac

    Laura H. Drapac from laurahdrapac says:

    This is so enchanting! I liken it to the recent wave of pop-up galleries and abandoned storefront installation spaces... something wonderful for nothing!

    1 year ago

  • esmeelynne
  • jadedgoats

    Judy Wright from JudithGayleDesigns says:

    What a wonderful story! Thank you!

    1 year ago

  • retroheart

    Jennifer Klem from retroheart says:

    This is awesome! There's a similar type thing that geocachers do (called Bookcrossing), but this is SO much cuter! :D I'm going to start bugging DH to make me one.

    1 year ago

  • AlbredasAttic

    AlbredasAttic from AlbredasAttic says:

    While I love this idea, and will most likely try to find a good location for one in our neighborhood (we don't get a lot of foot traffic on our street), here in Baltimore we also have something that has cropped up in several cities now (I believe). The project is a totally non-profit, donation driven, volunteer run "library" where no return is required. It is called the "Baltimore Book Thing" and books are collected from donations, stamped with "this is a free book, not for resale", then sorted into genres and placed out on shelving made of simple 2x4s in an old garage off of Greenmount Avenue. You can come in any weekend and gather all of the magazines, books, VHS, cassettes, cds, dvds, etc. that you desire for your school, church, scout troop, or just yourself. All that they ask is that you print your name and how many books you are taking on a ledger so that they can help account for where the books find a home. (For some of their grants and such, I think.) They gladly accept any donation and cheerfully accept volunteers of any kind. I have "turned on" so many people to this project and continue to cheerlead for it at every turn. Search online for a "book thing" near you (as I understand we are not the only city with one). And PLEASE never throw away a book! If you can't do something like these lovely micro libraries, at least donate them to a school, library, or even the Goodwill. Keep reading, folks!

    1 year ago

  • ellabellap

    Ella Parker says:

    I love love love it!!!! Such appealing houses for the books will attract attention.

    1 year ago

  • HulaGirl1922

    Margarita from HulaGirl1922 says:

    "Books gives us a place to go ... when we have to stay where we are..." and a book is gift that can be opened again and again... I ♥ the Free Little Libraries thank you for all that are making it happen...best wishes xoxoxo

    1 year ago

  • MyWisteriaCottage

    MyWisteriaCottage from MyWisteriaCottage says:

    This is a wonderful idea.

    1 year ago

  • liddysopretty

    liddy sopretty from liddysopretty says:

    Neat idea!!

    1 year ago

  • kaffeekatze

    Kannis from KaffeeKatze says:

    Wonderful idea! Love!

    1 year ago

  • violetpretty

    violetpretty says:

    So cool!

    1 year ago

  • iowajewel

    julie macneil from iowajewel says:

    i love this and would love to have one in our town!

    1 year ago

  • ElaHonore

    ElaHonore from ElaHonore says:

    What a wonderful story and an awesome idea. Thank you!

    1 year ago

  • cyasarcan

    Canan from Zembil says:

    I love those little libraries. Great post!

    1 year ago

  • Mocahete

    Sabrina and Dante Acevedo from Mocahete says:

    Such a wonderful idea!

    1 year ago

  • kibblesnknits

    Nancy from kibblesnknits says:

    Someone put one of these up in my neighborhood about a year ago. Everyone was talking about it and loving it so much!

    1 year ago

  • yimmekedesign

    Diana from yimmekedesign says:

    Such s delightful idea. I had to laugh about you wanting to be a librarian Linzee. That is exactly what I wanted be when I was little. I LOVED the way the librarian stamped the date on the little yellow cards and the way she shoved the card back in the book's little envelope. So much did I think back about this when I was older, that I bought a big box of library book pockets from a book store going out of business. I still wonder why that profession was so attractive to me, as I definitely did not fit the character of a stuffy little book mouse. I think I was more in awe of being around people who where interested in acquiring knowledge.

    1 year ago

  • dannylion

    Lauryn Quinn from thefrolickingfrog says:

    Too cool! Just went on the site to see more of these pretty little book houses. They are so cute! The books look so happy in them :) Such an awesome idea. Love it.

    1 year ago

  • cchumney

    Christle Chumney says:

    I am a librarian and had never heard of this project. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1 year ago

  • newtonsfigs

    newtonsfigs says:

    I LOVE this concept! I want one in my yard!!!!!!!

    1 year ago

  • nowvintage

    Bobbie from nowvintage says:

    I love this too!! Something that people of all ages can relate to but absolutely magical for kids!! In this day of technology it is a perfect time for a low tech thing such as this..I live a bit more remote, I will have to find someone in town to talk into this so I can do one!!! :)

    1 year ago

  • isoscele

    isoscele from isoscele says:

    Great Idea

    1 year ago

  • zafuchi

    Sarah Zafuist from zafuchi says:

    What a fantastic thing to do! I live in an isolated rural area now but as soon as I get into a more populated area I will definitely want to give something like this a try!

    1 year ago

  • jasminerose

    Jasmine Rose from jasminerose says:

    I drive by one in my neighborhood every day, and I have always wondered what it was all about. Thanks for sharing!

    1 year ago

  • dearmysoul

    May Scarmazzi from maymazzi says:

    I made one of these back in 2007, using an old newspaper box that was no longer in use (other than as a trashcan...). I repainted it, decorated, made a sign and filled it with books. Within 3 days it was destroyed and all the books gone, i even found some in the trashcan nearby. Hopefully this one is in a better neighborhood, i love the concept of tiny libraries.

    1 year ago

  • GoldenSpiralDesigns

    Lola Ocian from GoldenSpiralDesigns says:

    Cute idea! I love the newspaper box - turned free library. What a great alternative to boring news. Books are better!

    1 year ago

  • vegasblingrocks

    Judy Murphy from vegasblingrocks says:

    To May Hunter: NEVER GIVE UP, you too are a great inspiration for literacy. Hopefully the culprits are now mature and sorry and just might even help you make another one. "If you build it they will come .... "

    1 year ago

  • vegasblingrocks

    Judy Murphy from vegasblingrocks says:

    To May Hunter: NEVER GIVE UP! You too are a wonderful inspiration for promoting literacy and giving back. Maybe the culprits are sorry and just might even help contribute to it. "If you build it they will come ..... " Best wishes!

    1 year ago

  • BeatriceCLaNore

    Brittany Hodgson from BeatriceCLaNore says:

    What a wonderful idea. I love it!

    1 year ago

  • Chifonie

    Chifonie from Chifonie says:

    I would love to live near such a lovely free library !

    1 year ago

  • lesliewatkins3

    Leslie Watkins says:

    Linzee, Thanks so much for your wonderful words about Little Free Library! Your piece brought a lot of new visitors to our website! Sincere thanks, Leslie lwatkins@littlefreelibrary.org

    1 year ago

  • metroretrovintage

    metroretrovintage from metroretrovintage says:

    I love this idea. There is a free bookshelf in my laundry room, and have both borrowed from it, and donated to it. It's a wonderful way to circulate books and spread the joy of reading.

    1 year ago

  • scal12

    Payson A from SecondStarDesignCo says:

    Such a cute idea, thank you for sharing! I'd never seen those before, and I love how it promotes community trust and a love of reading. I also love your story about "playing librarian"-- how cute!

    1 year ago

  • BrittneyWest

    Brittney West from BrittneyWest says:

    What a wonderful idea! I would love to incorporate a Free Library in my town! "Let the beauty of what you love be what you do."--Rumi

    1 year ago

  • dunne1

    Lisa Dunne-Jackson from RoofTopCreations says:

    I sent this to my sister who is a librarian here in NJ! I think this is a great idea and I really want to put one up in my neighborhood. My family talked aboiut it at dinner tonight and my 13 year old son, who is at a very cynical age, said, "you know, Mom, people probably won't follow the rules and someone will probably come and just steal all of the books at once!" I was able to use the quote from the article title and said, "But they're all free. You can't steal a free book!" "And besides," I said, "maybe the people who steal all the books might actually read them!" "Hmm," he said, "I think that would be neat!."

    1 year ago

  • oldish

    oldish from oldish says:

    I actually studied library science, but never worked as a librarian even if my heart is still with Dewey, seeing this warms my bookish me.

    1 year ago

  • RamblinRiver

    Jessi from RamblinRiver says:

    Great story! My dad just retired and he lives across from the school bus barn. I think this is his next project. It may need to be a little bigger though.

    1 year ago

  • lkmccray

    Linzee from lkmccray says:

    Love all the enthusiasm for Little Free Libraries (and libraries in general). Hope many new ones come to fruition. And I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one who loved playing library.

    1 year ago

  • ernie50

    ernie from ernie50 says:

    I love this. When I was little my Mom would always take me to the library and my Dad worked for a company that would throw away books that had some damage, so he would bring them home to us. Books were very Important in our family. I like you would also play library at home and still have some of the books I stamped. Books have always been my comfort and connection to both my parents. There is nothing better than having a book in your hands and not via cyberspace to read. Thanks for keeping that alive through your lovely little libraries. Maybe we can start one in Texas, but with this heat we would have to install a mini air conditoner...

    1 year ago

  • lesliewatkins3

    Leslie Watkins says:

    For more information on Little Free Libraries visit our web-site: www.littlefreelibrary.org

    1 year ago

  • CrazyEyeFusedGlass

    CrazyEyeFusedGlass from CrazyEyeFusedGlass says:

    I've got one of these! Wish we lived on a street with more traffic, but everyone is welcome!

    1 year ago

  • spacefem

    spacefem from spacefem says:

    I built one of these too! It's been getting great traffic, I just love it! http://www.facebook.com/WichitaLittleFreeLibrary

    1 year ago

  • LCooperDesigns

    LC Cooper from LeMaisonBelle says:

    AWESOME!!!

    1 year ago

  • janicej

    Janice Jong from janicej says:

    Such a fun and creative way to share books. Nice to see there's one here in the UK.

    1 year ago

  • HoneyBeeHolistics

    Melissa from HoneyBeeHolistics says:

    Anything to promote reading! Knowledge is free and should be shared with all!

    1 year ago