As a professional writer and avid reader, I love the Little Free Library concept because its mission is rooted in the idea that everyone everywhere should have access to books. I’ve known about these birdhouse-looking libraries for a while but, until recently, I had no idea how popular they had become. Most of the mini libraries I’ve seen were created by people I know which I think is so cool – especially since it’s based on a “take a book, return a book” model that allows people to share books for free.
According to the www.littlefreelibrary.org, Little Free Library is “a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.” Apparently, through this organization, millions of books are exchanged each year which has increased both access to and interest in books for readers of all ages and backgrounds. Because these tiny libraries reside outside, people can grab a book anytime – there are no hours or closed signs.
A few astonishing facts I learned about Little Free Libraries:
- They can be found in over 70 countries worldwide!
- More than 50,000 tiny libraries have been created!
- Millions of books are being exchanged on an annual basis!
Want to start a Little Library? Here are the five steps listed on the website:
Step One: Identify a Location & Steward
Decide where to legally and safely install the Library – preferably where a lot of people can see it and walk by it. One person has to be the steward (aka caretaker) of the Library meaning they are in charge of its promotion and upkeep.
Step Two: Get a Library
People build their own Little Libraries, find someone locally to build one, or they purchase a Library through the website’s online catalog. Although the third option is probably the most expensive, choosing that option means that the Library is automatically registered, a charter sign is included, and the Library is automatically added to the world map.
Step Three: Register Your Library
Registering means lots of support from the mini Library network, along with an official charter sign engraved with a unique charter number.
Step Four: Build Support
This is where living in a small town or a cool neighborhood is extremely beneficial because getting the word out is easy. Of course, social media is also a great way to let everyone know about the Library.
Step Five: Add Your Library to the World Map
While the website encourages people to hold a grand opening ceremony with a ribbon cutting, that might be a little much for some people. That being said, having the ability to locate a Little Library on the world map the organization provides is extremely helpful. By using the map, I was able to find a Library that is five miles from my house!
An aspect of Little Library I like the most is the simplicity of the idea. We live in a time where everything requires a form, password, or blood type to get anything accomplished so I love the simple answers given on the FAQ page. For example, if people want to donate books, all they have to do is place them in a Little Free Library book exchange near them. Done and done. Another question asks: How do I get in touch with a Little Free Library steward in my neighborhood? The answer: Knock on his or her door or leave a note in the Library itself, see if the steward has included their name and contact information on the world map, or introduce yourself. Love it.
If you’re a fan of books. or have kiddos who enjoy reading, take them to a Little Free Library. Show them that there are people who do nice things because they genuinely want to and that little ideas can literally make an impact on the world.