One of my passions is literacy. I love reading and I also make sure that my kids always have plenty of books available to read. We frequent the library and own quite a collection of books as well. So, when I came across today’s organization, I knew right away that I wanted to write about them. Since I first heard about them, I have started seeing their name everywhere, including my local newspaper, National Public Radio, and NBC Nightly News!
The Little Free Library organization has a three part mission:
- To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide,
- To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations, and
- To build more than 2,510 libraries around the world.
Some organizations begin with a grand idea and others start as something smaller. Little Free Library began as just one library. Todd Bol built a little library in honor of his mother who had passed away and placed it in front of his home. It looked like a schoolhouse because his mother was a teacher.
While having a garage sale one day, he noticed that everyone was fascinated by the library. He shared their reactions with his friend Rick Brooks and they hatched a plan for expansion. The libraries serve as more than just a place to exchange books. It connects people with their community and promotes connection with their neighbors. If people meet at a Little Free Library, they talk about books and more. It makes for a pleasant conversation that wouldn’t always happen on the street.
When I spoke with Todd, he mentioned that many people hug their libraries when they are first installed. Adults and children love the libraries and are proud of them. Most of the registered libraries are homemade – many are hand painted or built by creatively reusing materials. Many of the libraries that Todd builds are made using items he has found around his farm including old cutting boards, quilt racks, and horseshoes.
When someone registers their library, they receive an official “Little Free Library” sign. Recently Todd created his 1000th sign and placed it on a library made in memory of his father. This library is right next to the first library in Todd’s yard.
As of today, there are registered libraries in over 20 counties – and they are spreading quickly! These libraries serve as an augmentation to traditional libraries, not a competition. They serve as an expression of how wonderful books are.
How can you help?
- Build a Little Free Library for your community. There are plans on the organization’s website. Don’t forget to register your library on their website to ensure people can find it.
- You can purchase a Little Free Library on their website.
- Make a donation to help offer free libraries through various gift programs.
- The organization also has a classified section on their website where they post things that they need donated or done.
- Find a nearby library using the map on the website, then stop by and donate a book.
- Spread the word about the Little Free Library movement – share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or wherever else you can to spread this movement across the world.
You can learn more about Little Free Library on their website, littlefreelibrary.org. You can also connect with them on Facebook or follow their blog. They also have a Neighborhood Builder’s Guild Facebook page to share stories, plans and advice about building their libraries.