A few years ago, I started seeing little birdhouse-like structures popping up in front lawns around Denver. When I looked closer, though, I realized that these structures held books rather than stoops for birds. Adorned with signs that read “Little Free Library: Take a Book, Return a Book,” I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about this movement of community libraries.
It all started back in 2009 when a gentleman in Wisconsin put up a little library as a tribute to his late mother, who was a teacher and book lover. The idea quickly spread, and Todd Bol soon founded Little Free Library as a non-profit organization. The goal was to share the love of books as far and wide as possible, and boy has the organization done that: there are over 32,000 little free libraries worldwide as of this writing.
As a fellow book lover myself, I wanted in on the movement. My lovely wife bought me a library as a gift (you can buy pre-constructed libraries on their website), and I was able to get it up in our yard over Labor Day weekend this fall. After a few months in operation, I can happily say that it’s been an even bigger success than I imagined.
The little library functions as basically just a neighborhood book exchange. The idea is that someone will take a book that piques their interest, and sometime in the future return either that book, or a totally different one. On a weekly basis, there are dozens of books turned over in my library, and the benefits both to my own life, and to the community at large, have been numerous: