So much has been written about the Little Free Library project, there’s little I can add.
Started in 2009, the concept is simple: little boxes that look like miniature buildings (originally 20” wide by 15” deep by 18” high), mounted on a post on private property, filled with books, that operate as libraries on an honor system (“take a book, leave a book.”)
There are now over 2000 of the little libraries in the U.S. and other countries, and the people who build them and buy them and stock them and use them and love them are quite an avid bunch. I love the idea, but I confess that when I first started hearing and reading about them in the news, I was skeptical. And when I heard a county library board member speak enthusiastically about the newest Little Library in her neighborhood, I would rather have heard her get that passionate about defending the county library budget request.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d love one of these little things in my front yard. I love miniature buildings, and believe me, no one would need to re-stock our little library; we could keep it stocked for years with titles from our own overcrowded bookshelves. But I don’t ever want to hear that municipalities don’t need to appropriate tax money to support libraries because they could just be larger versions of a Little Free Library. Yes, I know that public libraries are more than that—they are community gathering places, sources of information and programs for children and adults, and so much more. But I worried that other people don’t, especially when we are besieged by the “tax cut mentality.”
Much smarter librarians and advocates than I have embraced the Little Free Library movement, and I can’t find any articles about anyone who has publicly pronounced them good enough to replace bricks and mortar libraries, so I’m going to consider my fears unfounded. Please let me know what you think.
- Little Free Library on Facebook
- Barely Bigger Than a Breadbox, but Teeming With Literary Treasures in Brooklyn (New York Times)
- Little Free Libraries’ Hope For Lending Revolution (NPR)
- Madison to regulate Little Free Libraries
- Little Free Libraries Allow Neighbors to Share Books and a Bit of Themselves (Minneapolis Star/Tribune)
(And there are MANY more articles like the above online!)