Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Little Free Libraries

Book lovers rejoice! Free books are available everywhere now, even in your own neighborhood. I've seen shelves in coffee shops where the customers are invited to "take a book and leave a book." Since my husband and I are avid readers I thought it was a great way to circulate our ever-expanding pile of books. It wasn't until my sister, Janet, sent me the photo below that my interest was sparked in the Little Free Library that is springing up with 32,000 book exchanges in all 50 states and 70 countries around the world.

This Little Free Library, which is painted in University of Wyoming Cowboys' colors of brown and gold, is proudly planted outside a bank in Cheyenne, Wyoming. My mother, Rosemary, and my sister have unofficially adopted this book exchange. They often visit it to donate good reads and to straighten up any topsy-turvy books. They reported that it's a very active library and the popular books are exchanged quickly. Their enthusiasm even has me considering putting a Little Free Library out on the corner of my property.

These Little Free Library book exchanges are meant to have a special community building atmosphere about them. Some libraries are focused on school children stopping by. What a great way to encourage kids to read. This is a library on Race St. in Denver, Colorado. 

What child could resist stopping to pick up a book with inviting chairs and stools to beckon them?

For those interested in setting up a little free library its easy and fun to do. You can purchase kits from the Little Free Library web site or make your own. I found this kit in a hardware store in Boulder, Colorado. 

There are no rules about what your library should look like. By clicking on this link you'll see many designs of the Little Free Library that will spark your creativity. As you plan your Little Free Library, it might be wise to check with your homeowners association (if you have one) to make sure you are within covenant restrictions. Additionally, to use the name Little Free Library which is registered and trademarked, it's asked that you register your library so it becomes a part of the Little Free Library network. By doing this it will have an official sign and charter number on it. You can also register it on the 

In the picture above with the little chairs, did you notice the recycled chair used for the library stand in the front yard? Here is a closer view of it. 

In Old Town Arvada, Colorado, there is a garden container holding the books on a driveway.

Look at how much room is available in this idea.

Another Little Free Library in Arvada, Colorado, cheers on the Broncos Football Team in their bright orange and blue colors. 

The Little Free Library was started in 2009 and became non-profit in 2012. Over a million books have been exchanged since then. You can find them on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and a few other social media sites.  It's worth taking a look because the Little Free Libraries come in all shapes, sizes and colors. It's a marvel to enjoy. They have a newsletter you can sign up for also.

After my sister told me about the Little Free Library I went in search of any in my neighborhood. I was so excited to find this one not very far away. I might not have even realized what it was if it wasn't for the heads up from her.

The original box of books was  built in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin. It was a one room school house design. His mother had been a former school teacher who loved reading. He built it as a tribute to her. You can read more of the history of the Little Free Library here. Below is an adorable red barn. I bet it's in memory of a family farm. 

The map feature on the Little Free Library web site is a great place to find local places for these book exchanges. In my hometown of Arvada, Colorado, I found nine locations of the little libraries. What fascinated me was by hovering my mouse over each location it often told me the story behind each Little Free Library. Some are dedicated to parents, or located across from a school to encourage children coming by. One even said it was a replica of the house she grew up in (sorry there was no picture and I haven't been able to make a field trip to the site; latitudes and longitudes are given).  I noticed some of the book boxes are decorated for the seasons. Here's an idea for that book lover in the family! Help to build or buy one of these adorable book boxes for that bibliophile who would love to share his/her love of books with others. It could become a family project.  

I was driving down a street in the Park Hill Neighborhood of Denver and found this Little Free Library on the corner. I had to quickly turn at the corner to visit it. I haven't taken any books from any of the libraries I've visited but I might have to start carrying my excess of read books in my car to add to the collections I come across.

Even though I haven't taken a book yet, I still open and close the doors on each library and have the fun of reading the titles available. I am partial to mysteries and I suspect they are quickly taken

The sign on this Little Free Library says "Celebrating Neighbors". It's in a lovely neighborhood and is so inviting. The mission statement of the Little Free Library includes wanting to build a sense of community and this definitely is doing that. 

I love seeing neighborhood libraries with sitting available to peruse the books or for a quick read. This is one of  my favorite pictures so far. My mother, sister and her husband, Steve, found it in Cheyenne. From the picture I can't tell if it's registered yet with the Little Free Library. It's easy to make one official and with that you receive a charter sign to display. This outdoor library looks so peaceful and welcoming. I could imagine a quilt thrown over the back and a pillow tucked into the corner. The fall colors encourage me to linger. I wonder if they'd bring me out a cup of coffee? 

Looking inside this wonderful garden bench is a vast assortment of books for old and young alike. I think I see a Harry Potter book and the sticker book will probably disappear fast. 

Little Free Libraries are the personalities of their stewards. I saw some book boxes that focus on cookbooks or children's books. I've seen magazines, teen reads, science fiction, suspense and an occasional horror thriller. Opening the door of a neighborhood library and peeking in to see what your next reading adventure will be is the fun that will draw you back over and over again. Gather up that stack of books you've finished reading and share them. You might be surprised who you'll meet at the Little Free Library on your corner.