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Reminiscent of old-style British post boxes, Little Free Libraries have rapidly grown in popularity since their inception in 2009.
Some may ask why Americans need community book exchanges when we are already blessed with an abundance of free public libraries. The differences between the book exchanges I have encountered are fascinating and illustrate my point.
Sign up for our newsletter to have the best of Book Riot delivered straight to your inbox every two weeks. One of the highlights of my summer break had nothing to do with digital initiatives, social media, connected learning, or blogging.
This experience has reminded me of some things that too easily slip away when we spend so much time on the digital. Our core values are alive and well in the LFL movement, even though many (if not most) of the LFL facilities are built and stewarded by people who are not librarians. An LFL steward informally agrees to care for the library and its collection in an effort to serve the reading public—most probably a few blocks of a neighborhood, or in our case a circular road with cottages and homes along the lake.
Many librarians across the country have been involved with placing LFLs in their library neighborhoods. We know from the caretakers and others who interact with the LFLs that they have been well received. Our lake association wants to start a little library and I volunteered to be the caretaker. Ginger, we don’t expect the books that we place in the little free libraries to be returned.
For digital addon to lfl’s- how about solar powered battery pack for one of Jason Griffey’s libraryboxes? I love this idea but don’t know that it would work here where we have several months straight of monsoonal rain.
Pauline – we will get a lot of snowe up here at Spider Lake and the snow plow comes through our little road often.
I definitely discuss LFLs (which are big here in Madison) in my library school classes, but it’s as a controversial topic. Because, of course, as we all know, libraries are expensive buildings with print books in them.
We all know that having books (reading material) in the home is important in terms of literacy. Catherine – I would hope you and your students that share the mixed feelings someday get to experience the excitement that planning, building and installing a LFL can offer. This is exactly the sort of thing that LibraryBox is made for (thanks for the mention, Polly!).
I would love to see some students tackle a free-standing off-the-grid installation somewhere! I had the extraordinary fortune yesterday to meet Rick Brooks, one of the co-founders of the LFL movement. He had some very positive stories to tell about how LFLs have joined people together in communities, created conversations, and even created a desire for real library services. Project Update: The Little Free Library-Where woodworking and reading can be shared with the community. The Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2009 by Todd Bol and Rick Brooks and based in Wisconsin.
As for the books that you supply within your library, you can either supply them yourself with what you think people might be interested in reading from your own collection, or you can seek out donations from your local bookstore. Be sure to check back in a few weeks, as Highland Woodworking’s owner Chris Bagby and his wife Sanne are currently building a Little Free Library in their front yard in Atlanta using recycled materials.
Click HERE to see Sanne’s first entry about the beginning process of building a Little Free Library and her finding of the wood materials to make her project complete.
This free simple bookshelf clip art is brought to you courtesy of our friends from This clip art of a penguin in the library is perfect for use on you reading awareness projects.

You can use this nice book shelves clip art on your personal or commercial projects as this clip art belongs to the public domain.
This free book shelves clip art is brought to you courtesy of our friends from This nice library book cart clip art can be used for your school clip arts, presentations, websites, blogs, documents, etc. The movement began in Hudson, Wisconsin, where Todd Bol installed a Little Free Library shaped like a schoolhouse on his front lawn.
Before the Little Free Library organization was founded, I encountered a number of community book exchanges established with the same principles in mind. Perhaps we don’t need them, but book exchanges and LFLs don’t just give people access to free books.
One locker room book exchange at a fancy country club golf course offered a wide selection of current bestsellers in mint condition.
With friends in our neighborhood on Spider Lake, just outside Traverse City, MI, we built and opened a little free library (LFL). My rusty collection development skills were put into play as I sorted through donations from neighbors and purchases from thrift stores. More often than not, those interviewed acknowledge the sense of community and collegiality that grow up around the little libraries.
Part of the packet a steward receives when registering an LFL includes a document outlining how to prevent vandalism.
Get your library interested in sponsoring one or more LFLs or offer programming to help neighborhoods.
The LFL will be coming in for the winter months to be stored so it’s safe and sound for next spring. We just attended the dedication of the third LFL here in Traverse City, MI and it was so nice to see the neighborhood come out, young and old alike.
Since then these libraries have popped up in front yards and public places all across the United States and even in locations throughout the world.
The organization encourages builders to use recycled and found materials to make your library unique as well as environmentally friendly. Just be sure to have enough books in there at a time to keep people coming back and sharing their own. Add this clip art to your school or library projects, websites and blogs, e-books, presentations, etc.
Use this clip art freely on your newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, school projects, etc. Whether for use on your library projects or websites, this clip art will definitely get the job done. Use it on your library projects, websites and blogs, home and furnishing magazines, e-books, newsletters, etc.
This clip art is in the public domain so use it freely on your projects without restrictions. You can also use this clip art on your e-books, reports, documents, presentations, websites and blogs, etc. This clip art is free to use for personal or commercial use since this clip art belongs to the public domain. Cos we've got enough Podcast material to keep you occupied for roughly 2 years and 147 days. The idea caught on, a nonprofit was founded, and there are now LFLs in all fifty states of the U.S. They foster an intimate sense of community different from that of a public library because the people have direct control over book selection, which reflects the interests of the neighborhood as a whole. Guided by a group based in Wisconsin, little libraries are popping up all over the United States and the world in the form of free-standing dollhouse-sized book repositories. We used a custom-made stamp to associate each item with our library, and stickers created from a template from LFL provide the simple rules: Take a book, return a book. From a Los Angeles Times piece on a local LFL: “It has turned strangers into friends and a sometimes impersonal neighborhood into a community.

One hint: “Get as many people as possible to know they are a part of the success of the Little Free Library. We can take a good example from my own home library, Traverse Area District Library (TADL) in northern Michigan. Imagine a class that pairs a student with a neighborhood to help build, stock, and steward an LFL for a semester. If you’re working in a mostly digital environment, consider stewarding your own LFL in your neighborhood. We want to get these firmly rooted in the community and then discuss other locations, different designs, etc.
My mixed feelings acquired supporting data when I visited our county fair this summer and saw a poster done by a local 4H group. Two of the organizers are employees at the local public library and they were very excited to be sharing books and other materials to promote literacy and reading for fun on their street.
Anybody can create their own library either with the company’s pre-manufactured structures for sale on their website, or by using your own creativity and woodworking skills with their plans and tips for builders.
You can incorporate almost any sort of material into your library so long as it is safe to the touch and weather resistant. If you happen to get interested and decide to build you own Little Free Library, be sure to send us a photo so we can include it in a future blog post. This clip art belongs to the public domain so use it freely on whatever project you desire without restrictions.
This clip art is in the public domain so use it freely on any of your projects without restrictions.
This clip art is in the public domain so use it freely on any project whether personal or commercial in nature without restrictions. First, they are outdoors and easily visible, making them more widely accessible, and second—The Cuteness Factor. That’s what’s so great about Little Free Libraries—they allow communities to express themselves and grow together while promoting literacy and self-education. TADL placed the first LFL in our area and promotes the movement on its website, complete with plans, photos, and hints for builders. Or industrious techie students might help make the LFL leap to the virtual—the digital LFL. After creating your library you can register it through the Little Free Library website for $35 where you will then receive your charter number and have your library represented on the official map. From there, you can get really fancy and build up the design to a log cabin, barn, or even a British phone booth! Some people have constructed their libraries in honor of a loved one, and have incorporated something of theirs into the materials in order to make a lasting legacy. While the vast majority are stateside, they are starting to pop up in places where books are sorely needed like Ghana, The Congo, and Pakistan. There are Little Free Libraries built like dollhouses, birdhouses, barns, phone booths, and yes, TARDISes too.
Let’s go further and host LFL nights and afternoons, offering access to plans, materials, and documentation. The designs can also be made up of multiple shelves to allow for even more book storage and sharing. And once you get to the actual painting and decoration of your library, the sky is the limit! How can we create small, personal, highly localized (local needs, local wants) digital LFLs?
Some corporate organizations will incorporate their logo onto the library (especially if they have sponsored the structure), or even made replicas of their actual businesses. Whatever you use to build and design your library make it unique and inviting in order to encourage your community to use it.

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