Thursday, June 21, 2012

Little Free Library

A block from my house, in a direction I rarely walk, an object on the lawn surprised me.


It's a neighborhood library.
The pink paper tells how it works.
You can bring a book and take a book.
The best line: "Give books. Leave notes in them."


Two years ago, in Wisconsin, Todd Bol built a little library to look like a little red schoolhouse to honor the memory of his mother, a librarian. After his neighbors admired it (and patted and hugged it) he wondered if other people might like to have their own. Bol contacted his friend Rick Brooks at the University of Wisconsin, and together they created this project promoting community, literacy, and the love of reading. You can read the complete story here.

Their goal is to promote the installation of 2,510 libraries, which would be more libraries than Andrew Carnegie endowed. Want to become a "steward?" Want one on your lawn? Create your own design, download plans from their website, or purchase one at LittleFreeLibrary.orgIt takes approximately 4-6 weeks to receive a little shed. If you would like to dedicate your library to someone you can purchase a custom sign for $60. Sheds cost $250-400. You can order: a kit; a shed made from two cranberry crates; a shed made from recycled material; a cabin or shed made by Amish carpenters; and even a "little red British phone booth," if you desire ($600 for that one). 

According to the article, prison inmates are learning woodworking in Prairie du Chien, WI as part of vocational training and they are building libraries; little sheds are being built in New Orleans from materials leftover from Hurricane Katrina. You can see a map of Little Free Library locations and pictures on the website as well as reading the blog. In addition to those in the United States, there are little libraries in the Congo, Ghana, Haiti, England, Germany, Italy, and Canada. Some people dedicate them: in Oakland, CA, the Cody family built one in memory of Pat & Fred Cody of Cody's Books; one in Sonoma, CA was built to honor Maurice Sendak. (We definitely need one in memory of Ray Bradbury.) 

You can see many of the little libraries when you click on their icons on the map. I discovered that there was a second library within walking distance of my house, albeit up Marin Avenue, the steepest street in Berkeley. This library had a Moleskine log book and a pen for you to write who you are and what you are taking. Several pages were filled with names of good books and glowing comments.




The printed book can coexist with electronic communication, each serving a unique function, yet interdependent. This is another fascinating example of how the internet can be essential to a maker's good cause: to promote international community through reading.  One man's personal project and memorial to his mother is an inspiration for many.


Will a Little Free Book Art Library be next?

4 comments:

val said...

Oh, I really want to put a library in our yard. And in it I'll put all those books where children leave things for one another in a boundary tree, like: "Little Women", and "To Kill a Mockingbird".

ronnie said...

I can't remember when I first saw/read about this project (online of course) - but I was struck by just how perfect the idea and execution seemed - how lovely to see it bearing fruit (or rather....books) - and how right to state that one technology does not replace another....but can exist independently, interdependently, and symbiotically (but hopefully not parasitically!)

india flint said...

this is a wonderful project. much better than just leaving books in odd places hoping they'll be found.

HereBeDragons said...

I've already been passing my books along via Bookcrossing.com for years! I would love to steward one of these boxes!