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.Little Free Libraries Website <http://www.littlefreelibrary.org/
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*LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES ARE TAKING ROOT ON LAWNS*
By Ben Jones
February 28, 2012
Todd Bol wanted to honor his mother, a former teacher and book lover who
died a decade ago. So two years ago, Bol built a miniature model of a
library, filled it with books for anyone to take, and placed it outside
his home in Hudson, Wis.
He says people loved it. "People just kept coming up to it, looking at
it, patting it, saying 'oh, it's cute,' " Bol recalls.
>From that idea, hundreds of similar Little Free Libraries are popping up
on lawns across the country. They're tiny -- no bigger than a dollhouse.
Some look like miniature homes or barns. Others just look like a box on
But they all hold books.
"Take a book, leave a book," says Bol, explaining in a nutshell, the
basic concept of these tiny libraries.
After building the first library, Bol thought the idea had potential to
spread. He contacted his friend Rick Brooks, who is an outreach program
manager for the Division of Continuing Studies at the University of
Together, they have helped launch a small, but growing movement.
The men provide logistical assistance and support to people who want to
become mini-librarians. They have a Website,littlefreelibrary.org
>, that provides drawings people can
use to construct the boxes. It also has a map that tracks the location
of Little Libraries.
Today, Little Free Libraries can be found in at least 24 states and
eight countries, Brooks says. He guesses there are 300 to 400 in existence.
"We are estimating that for every one we know about, there are two or
three others being built," Brooks says.
Little Libraries can now be found on lawns from Oakland, Calif., to
Yarmouth, Mass. Overseas, you can find them in places such as
Berkamsted, England, Hamburg, Germany, and Accra, Ghana.
In Wisconsin, Brooks says prison inmates recently started building the
libraries, which will soon be posted in several Wisconsin communities.
He says a project is in the works in New Orleans to create libraries out
of Hurricane Katrina debris.
People who use the libraries don't have to have a library card, or
follow any formal checkout procedure. The libraries have signs that
simply ask users to return a book -- there are no fines if they don't.
Some people donate extra books, Bol says.
In Flagstaff, Ariz., Brian Blue recently erected a Little Library on his
cul de sac. "(The library) helps create a sense of community," he says.
The library was a gift Blue made for his wife, and they are waiting for
their first patron. One small girl recently examined the box, which
contains books like Charlotte's Web, but she left without taking anything.
Blue plans to promote the library with fliers, and he hopes the girl
In Iowa City, Christine Rohret recently posted a Little Library that's
made to look like a barn. It's made from century-old barn boards.
"I thought it was a great way, in a small way, to spread the love of
literature," she says.
Rohret says a larger project will soon bring more of the libraries to
her city. In the meantime, Rohret is waiting for a patron. "The
neighbors are already asking about it," she says. "Cars driving by are
In Madison, Jenna Hansen has hosted a Little Library in her front yard
for a year and a half. She jokes that she could add the title of "A
little bit of a librarian" to her résumé.
"I have no idea how many literally thousands of books have been in and
out of there," she says.
In El Paso, Lisa Lopez, a librarian at Zavala Elementary School, says
illiteracy is a big challenge for her border city.
"So I decided to install two (little libraries) here on our campus," she
says. "Both are very much treasured. I'm getting books circulated like
Although there's a website promoting Little Libraries, the boxes are
decidedly low-tech and word of their existence often spreads in a
Nancy Johnson of Madison was out of a walk when she happened upon a
library in someone's yard.
"What a nifty idea that someone decided to share books," she says. "I
love it. I like the sense of community, I like the concept and the
comfort level of sharing reading materials."
Brooks says building these little libraries in an era of iPads and
Kindles might seem like something of a counter-trend. But the libraries
are personal and connect communities in a way electronic devices can't,
"People tell us over and over, there's something about the physical feel
about the book in your hands," he says. "It has meaning. There's a
spirit that can't be found electronically."
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Published by David Sunfellow
Phone: (928) 257-3200
Fax: (815) 642-0117
P.O. Box 2242
Sedona, AZ 86339
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