Your (little, free) neighborhood library

Recently I returned from a week long trip out of town to find a new library had popped up in my neighborhood.

Now usually the arrival of a library would come with some fanfare, but this one showed up without a word of warning. Take a look:

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Located in my friend Rita Dalbec’s yard, this “little free library” is part of a growing movement to encourage reading in your neighborhood.

Dalbec said she heard about the project from a friend, got a hold of the suggested plans for building your own, and handed them over to her dad. He made a few modifications of his own, and voila! Dalbec’s boulevard is now home to Little Free Library #0624.

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This miniature library project was started by two Wisconsin guys. Todd Bol made the first library in the form of a schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a teacher. When he saw how popular the little library was with passersby, he joined forces with his friend Richard Brooks to expand the idea. Now, what is dubbed “little” has become a huge success.

Rita Dalbec says the concept of the little free library is simple; take a book, leave a book.

I added two books. If you have a look in the box you will see many more books. Users that I am aware of are 13 months to 83 years old.

Enthusiasm for the project appears to be infectious. Recently the Walker Art Center along with three local presses got involved.

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Back in March, NPR reported that over 200 libraries had been installed. Just a few months later that number has exploded, with little free libraries popping up in Haiti, Ghana, and Afghanistan. Now over 1700 libraries are registered around the world. There are dozens in the Twin Cities.

Bol and Brooks say their goal is to see over 2,500 Little Free Libraries constructed around the world. That would exceed the number of libraries built by Andrew Carnegie.

Asked why she got involved in the project, Dalbec’s response is short and sweet:

Reading is good for you and me. That’s why I did it.

  • http://mnprairieroots.wordpress.com Minnesota Prairie Roots

    Todd is working with locals in my hometown of Vesta on the southwestern Minnesota prairie to get a LFL in place at the community-owned Vesta Cafe. Vesta, population around 330, has never had a library and recently lost its bookmobile service due to budget cuts. The LFL is an especially exciting concept for these small towns without libraries anywhere near them. All I ever wanted in my hometown while growing up was a library and now that will soon be a reality.

  • Heather Magee-Hill

    We have one down the road from us and the kids are soooooo excited. It encourages them to walk around the neighborhood

    AND read! Thanks for sharing the story. I had no idea it was part of a bigger movement.