This May Be Your Closest Library

During the last year I made a new discovery that I think many other people may not be aware of – Little Free Libraries.  If this term has you scratching your head, this blog post will hopefully provide some information about them.

Blue little free library box

What are Little Free Libraries?

Little Free Libraries(LFL) were created in 2009 to allow people to exchange books in an informal setting.  Typically, the “library” is a enclosed box on a post (see pictures below), but some people have come up with quite creative designs for the libraries they put up. 

How many Little Free Libraries are there around the world?

According to the website (littlefreelibrary.org), there are 50,000+.  There are now these special libraries in every state and in more than 70 countries worldwide.

How can I find a Little Free Library near me?

You can check out the map at https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/

How do I know what books are in my local Little Free Library?

You don’t.  Some are set up with a theme in mind (possibly related to their location), but since the supply is fluid, the selection can change quickly.  Part of the reason I love these libraries is the discovery.  You never know what you’ll find until you peek inside!

How long can I check out a book for?

You don’t actually check a book out of a Little Free Library.  It is a give and take system.  You can keep a book as long as you need to, but you are encouraged to bring by another book in return.  It can be a good way to clear out bookshelves that are bulging with books that you’ll never have time or desire to reread.  Also, you are not required to return the exact book you borrowed.

What kind of places would be likely to have Little Free Libraries?

They are in a variety of places.  I personally have seen them outside schools, churches, in parks, and on residential streets.  I feel a wave of excitement when I unexpectedly come across one and have been known to reroute our course just to stop at one I spot along the way.

Little Free Library near lake

I am interested in creating one of my own.  How can I get one and can I put it up in my front yard?

If you check out the website I listed above, there are structures that you can buy.  There are also plans and tips on how to build your own.  A big thing is to make them in a way that they will stay dry.  One of the LFLs in my community had to be taken down because a sprinkler was hitting it and the water was setting up a mold condition for the books.  In order to use the name “Little Free Library”, you will need to register with the site and pay a one time registration fee (~$40).  This will put your library on the map and allow more people to find it.  Make sure you call your local government and check with any homeowner’s association before putting up your structure.  There may be laws governing their placement.  You don’t want to have to take it down after all the hard work you put into it.

I must confess that I’ve become very frustrated with regular public libraries over the recent past.  When I was a child, it was almost a criminal act to not whisper in a library.  Nowadays, not only do the patrons talk loudly, but even the librarians speak loudly.  Regular libraries, in my mind, have become places to socialize or snore (depending on your age group and economic status).  Little Free Libraries may be quieter than your local public library is. 

Who knows, maybe the next time you are stuck waiting for your child to finish soccer practice, you’ll spot a Little Free Library nearby and find a book that will become a favorite for years to come.  

I’d love to know if you’ve seen or used a Little Free Library.  Better yet, feel free to send pictures of these libraries that are local to your area, especially if they have unique designs.  Let me know if I have permission to put the picture in this blog post when I update it.

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