They’re popping up in a neighborhood near you and me here in Sunnyvale California and they are absolutely adorable. Little Free Libraries have spread across the country, but not for the reasons you might think.
While it might seem like Little Free Libraries are mostly about the lending of books, they offer so much more to your neighborhood and community.
After all, most cities have pretty extensive libraries that are easily accessible and fairly comprehensive. If you need a free book, you can usually find one. However, in some areas, the distance to major branches is far, or the library may be inaccessible due to safety or other concerns. Little Free Libraries offer books closer to home, making developing and fostering a love of reading even easier than before.
However, what these tiny libraries also offer that others cannot, is community. A connection with the people you share your life with, even if you don’t realize it.
The Little Free Library trend began when Todd Bol from Wisconsin built the first library as a tribute to his mother, a teacher who cherished books and reading. From there, the project expanded exponentially.
As of 2016, there were over 50,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide, in all 50 states and over 70 countries. Little Free Libraries come in all shapes and sizes – they are the expression of the personality of the library founder and the unique community they join.
While you can purchase prebuilt models from Little Free Library, you can also build your own library. These DIY projects can not only bring a family together in their design and construction, but they can also reflect the unique features of any home or neighborhood.
Libraries reflect the architecture of the homes they adorn, replicate places and buildings in noteworthy books, or even characters themselves.
Once complete, the library owner adds a curated selection of books to loan and community members are free to browse, borrow, keep, return, and add to the collection. Little Free Libraries work on the honor system to maintain the book collection, and the offerings are always evolving.
Visitors are invited to take a book, leave a book, or simply browse, knitting a community together through books.
The best part of these Little Free Libraries is the opportunity to get out your front door, interact with your neighbors, and ground yourself in your community. In this digital age, with so much available through a screen, the opportunity to slow down, take a walk, and make new friends with those living around us, is a refreshing trend.
An isolated parent with small children may discover a retired neighbor who can take on babysitting tasks a few times a month. A new neighbor can get to know those around them. Lasting friendships can develop and a support net, which all of us need, can expand and deepen.
Take the time to explore the Little Free Libraries in your community (a fantastic treasure hunt for a weekend afternoon) and consider adding one to your front lawn.