Hi there, Rebecca here. I do a lot of the behind-the-scenes work for Liz and Ellie, so they can focus on their clients. We meet once a week and, over coffee, catch up with business and personal news. About a year ago, Ellie mentioned that she wanted to put up a Little Free Library at her house in Somerville. “What’s a Little Free Library?” I asked, and her answer made Liz and me want to put Little Free Libraries up in our own cities, too. We all followed through, and at our last meeting, we shared photos of our new libraries. There were lots of “oooh”s and “aaah”s over each one, and I thought it would be nice to write about the burgeoning Little Free Library scene.
Who started this free library trend?
Little Free Library is an organization that will sell you pre-built libraries (Ellie chose one that was on sale), a kit you can assemble (Liz opted for this), or plans to help you build your own (you can also purchase from Etsy, as I did). If you license your library through them, it gets listed in their database for others to find, you receive a newsletter, and you get support and ideas for how to keep people coming to your library.
What is a Little Free Library, and how does it work?
It’s a weather-proofed structure, usually about the size of a dorm refrigerator, where your neighbors can take a book or two, or leave a book or two. There's no checking out of books and you don't have to bring a finished book back. It’s as simple as that. But it is also much more.
Little Free Libraries build community.
I met more of my neighbors in the first month after putting it in than I’d met in the ten-plus years I’ve lived in Melrose! We chatted, introduced children and dogs, and exchanged gardening tips. My daughter wanted to make sure we had plenty of books for kids, and those books go fast! We know we’re making a difference because our library’s homemade guest book is filled with comments and suggestions from engaged neighbors.
The Little Free Library organization doesn’t just help people put libraries in their own neighborhoods; they also distribute libraries and train stewards (that’s a name for the people who take care of the libraries) in remote areas without access to public libraries. In addition, through their Kids, Community and Cops program, they’re in the process of donating 100 libraries to police stations across the country in an effort to improve literacy and build trust in underserved communities.
Little Free Libraries help you declutter.
When it was time to stock my library, I went up into the attic where all our books were stored during a renovation (that happened over 3 years ago). I chose novels, non-fiction, and children's books that I loved and wanted to share with others. I certainly hadn't been missing those books in the years they were packed up, so it was time to let them go. I didn't have to cart them to a book bin for donations; I lovingly placed them on my library shelf and passed them on. Now when I'm in need of a good read, I grab a book someone else left, read it, and put it back out there for another person to discover. Of course, whenever it's time to add books, there are more in the attic to choose from!
What’s better than feeling good about your home and your neighborhood? Not much, if you ask Ellie, Liz or me. Get involved today, and help build community and literacy in neighborhoods across the country and around the world.
Want to join the Little Free Library community? Start here: https://littlefreelibrary.org
Want to donate a Little Free Library to a community in need, or sponsor a library for the Kids, Community and Cops initiative? Go here: https://littlefreelibrary.org/donate/