There’s a phenomena popping up all over the United States. It’s one I first discovered via the internet a couple summers ago but forgot about completely until last Friday night. Why last Friday? Well, we were walking around the block to reach our fireworks watching spot when I noticed something that didn’t look like a normal mailbox. I slowed down, stopped in front of it, and my mouth literally dropped open: it was a tiny little library!
I’m not even kidding. It sat proudly upon a post, roughly the height a normal mailbox would be, and had a little door one could open. Inside were books, and fastened to the wood below the door was a plaque that read “Free Little Library.” As soon as I saw it I knew I needed to participate. I spent the entire time up until the fireworks began scouring the internet for more information.
This forgotten adorableness popped back into my social feeds like they did a few summers ago. When the world shut down in 2020, I think folks started building these to bring back a sense of community. They became especially popular once all the libraries began offering minimal services. Then life slowly began returning to normal and I forgot all about these free little libraries.
Until last Friday night.
And, wouldn’t you know, the little library’s location actually shared a house number, just on the opposite street. It’s like a rediscovery was destined to be! Through an evening’s worth of research (post fireworks, of course), I discovered a little more about them and decided it was time to share with you what they’re all about:
- Providing 24/7 book access
- Fostering new Little Free Libraries
- Granting Little Free Libraries to high-need areas
- Championing diverse books
- Working with key community partners
Directly from their website, this is what the main image reads: “The Little Free Library nonprofit organization was founded in 2012. We strive to be a catalyst for building community and increasing book access through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Library book exchanges.” source
Not only do I want to build a little library of my own, I’m now contemplating putting one in the front yard of my church. Over the years we’ve hosted a variety of groups including NA, AA, children’s learning summer programs and more. I’d love to present this idea to our elders to further community involvement. But for now, let’s take a look at what I’d like my little library to look like!
I have seen designs for these libraries of all kinds, and even some where they’ve decorated around the base and behind it, too. The one on the street over is simply built, but I’d like to take mine a step further. Why not have two dedicated sections: one for kids and one for grownups? Then, off to the other side, I’d include my house number in some fashion.
The kids section will be at child-height to provide easier access for little hands. I think my dad actually liked this idea because he’s thinking about my niece and nephew who live down the street. (Seriously. It goes our grandma, my house, my parents, my cousins, and then three doors down from our cousins, my sister’s family). There are also many families with kids who consistently walk around the block on a daily basis, so I’d love to get them more involved in a project like this.
While our families aren’t considered low-income, I think this is a great project anyone can get involved with. Especially if it can be added to a church’s community as well. Of course that one would require a bit more planning and execution (and perhaps a look into city ordinances), but I think it would be well worth the effort. And it doesn’t have to include just religious material, either.
Free Little Libraries are for everyone. “We are facing a growing literacy crisis. Today in the United States, more than 30 million adults cannot read or write above a third-grade level. Studies have repeatedly shown that books in the hands of children have a meaningful impact on improving literacy. The more books in or near the home, the more likely a child will learn and love to read. But two out of three children living in poverty have no books to call their own.” source
If I can help spread my love of reading in more than one way, you better believe I’m gonna try my hardest to do so. What I find really cool is that there are now over 150,000 of these Free Little Libraries throughout the country. I hope even more find their way out there!
While I’m not as skilled as some members of my family who work (or have worked) in the trades, I do know who I can call upon for building help should I hit any kind of building or planning snafu.
I’m always careful about what books I choose to bring into my own home (ie if the history’s correct in a nonfiction or if I like an author’s writing style or not). However, I thoroughly enjoy the idea of the motto on their plaques: “Take A Book, Share A Book.”
What a great way to meet your neighbors and perhaps discover something new! I’ll definitely keep y’all updated with any developments on both Free Little Libraries ideas. And all it took was one walk around the block to watch fireworks one 4 th of July weekend to ignite this little project!