The first such library was built in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis. as a tribute to his mother, a school teacher and avid reader. Joined a year later by social entrepreneur Rick Brooks, the LFL …
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The first such library was built in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis. as a tribute to his mother, a school teacher and avid reader. Joined a year later by social entrepreneur Rick Brooks, the LFL organization has been growing ever since. In January 2015, the number of registered Little Free Libraries worldwide was 25,000 and increasing daily. The principle is simple, take a book then replace it with another.
“My wife and I read a lot, use our public libraries a lot and have a house full of books. I noticed a small Little Free Library in one of my walks and because I am a crafty guy, I built one for us,” shares local LFL steward Frank Miltenberger. “My wife, Joanne, always skeptical about my hare-brained ideas quickly adopted this as hers and takes special interest in getting 'marketable' books for display.”
It’s not a passive hobby. More akin to a labor of love. These libraries require effort to ensure books satisfy wide-ranging preferences, ages, genres and interests. Our close neighbor Claudia Benson’s husband built their library from a $6 thrift-shop cabinet. Having a particular affection for families of young readers, Claudia admits to re-filling her library with inexpensive books picked up from garage sales and other places.
Holly South’s husband and son presented her with a handmade Little Free Library in December 2014. She enjoys sharing the experience of collecting and managing her library with her kids. It’s a special activity the family enjoys doing together. “My kids and I check it almost daily to see what's new and what's needed, to straighten it up and rearrange the books. They've been almost as excited about it as I am, which is great. It's a good project for us and helps us weed their book collections too.”
According to Todd Matuszewicz, the most rewarding thing about his Little Free Library is “How much people love it. Cars driving by stop to browse or refill the inventory. I rarely have to add books, although I primarily restock the youth section.” Todd’s library is part of a “communal porch” affectionately referred to as the “bus stop” where neighbors are encouraged to relax, read, and connect with others.
The most moving part of researching this story was the enthusiasm of these neighborhood champions of literacy and community. Their Little Free Libraries are a vehicle for connecting and for fostering reading for all.
More information – including a searchable map of Little Free Library locations – can be found at littlefreelibrary.org.
My thanks to Paul Kashmann, former publisher of The Profile for letting me shamelessly steal this and other topics from his editorial prospects list.
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