Have you seen the Little Free Libraries that keep springing up everywhere?
If not then you’re in for a real treat. Although I’d seen a couple, I’d no idea they were so widespread until I read an article by Margaret Aldrich in The Atlantic .
What Are They?
A Little Free library is essentially a small bookcase that someone has built and filled with books. People can borrow books from them or take a book to keep, and replace it with one they put inside. And it’s all based on the honour system.
Tod Bol built the first Little Free Library in the Mississippi River town of Hudson, Wisconsin, in 2009, as a tribute to his mother—a dedicated reader and former schoolteacher. When he saw the people of his community gathering around it like a neighborhood water cooler, exchanging conversation as well as books, he knew he wanted to take his simple idea farther.
“We have a natural sense of wanting to be connected, but there are so many things that push us apart,” Bol says. “I think Little Free Libraries open the door to conversations we want to have with each other.” He goes on , “We have a natural sense of wanting to be connected, but there are so many things that push us apart,” Bol says. “I think Little Free Libraries open the door to conversations we want to have with each other.”
Since Tod Bul had this brilliant brain wave, the idea has spread all over the US, and now into other countries.As of January 2014, there are over 15,000 Little Libraries worldwide, and counting. An estimated 1,650,000 books were donated and borrowed from 2010-2013
Why do they Have Such Appeal?
Everyone loves things for free don’t they? But people also like things that make them feel like they are part of a community, something they can easily participate in. In fact what books are in the Little Free Library is going to tell you a lot about your neighbours. I think the other appeal is that it is so low tech in a world that is seething with gadgets, reinventing the book and the way we read it at every turn.
Many people may remember being taken to a library when they were little and that just might not happen so easily now.
What is Their Real Potential?
The other potential, and this has already happened, is that the Little free Library becomes a low budget way for the “real thing” to reach areas in the world, including the US, that simply don’t have the money to build, stock or staff a traditional library. The organization’s Books Around the Block program, for example, aims to bring LFLs to places where kids and adults don’t have easy access to books. In North Minneapolis, an area more often in the news for shootings than community engagement, the Books Around the Block initiative set up 40 of the little libraries. Two hundred more sprung up shortly thereafter.
How Can You get a Little Free Library in Your Neighbourhood?
If you’ve not found one in your neighbourhood then do one of two things. Check on line to see if theres a local map showing where they are.
OR, better still…..Build one !!! and put it outside your front door. I have considered it myself, but have not yet done it.
But I know the first time I came across one – and I’d not heard of the movement at the time – I thought -Wow, this is so cool that someone took the time to build this little case, and fill it with books. I also thought it really said something about the neighbourhood. That it was somewhere people cared about and somewhere people trusted others enough to not worry they would be immediately ”stolen” from. Isn’t that the essence of what we want in a liveable society? Sounds good to me.
What do you think are the pro’s and con’s of the idea of a Little Free Library?
Come join the discussion, and please share this post on your favorite social media.