Variations on free, community-run libraries have been around for just about as long as books have been widely available to individual readers, and the whole idea of Little Free Library—and other organizations and personal efforts like it—just warms my lit-loving heart. As a woman with a ton of extra books that I’d love to share with other readers, seeing lovingly curated mini-libraries popping up in unexpected places makes me very, very happy. (Someone even transformed an obsolete phone booth in my Brooklyn neighborhood into a lending library! Brilliant!)
I’d heard about Little Free Library before, but this post with 5 Tips for Running a Little Free Library from Swapna Krishna on BookRiot really got me thinking about libraries as long-term projects. (It’s her library that’s pictured above.) Between building the physical library cabinet, curating the titles, and borrowing, donating, and sharing books with your neighbors, something that started out as a weekend build can really turn into years of community-based DIY!
In case you haven’t seen one in action, here’s how it usually works:
The books in each library are curated by the library’s steward, which keeps them filled with books that people might actually want to borrow, and prevents them from becoming a discard box for all unwanted books. Then, when people in the community want to read a book, they borrow it from the library. When they’re done reading, they can either return it to the library, or pass it along to someone else. To keep the library stocked, members of the community are encouraged add their own books to the shelves, enclosing a note for the next reader to find.
If you like the idea and want to give it a try, here are some resources from Little Free Library to help get you started:
- Tools and plans for building and installing your own Little Free Library
- How-to documents for starting a library
- FAQs to address additional questions and concerns
Want to see one in action? Check out this map to find a Little Free Library near you:
Want to know more? Visit Little Free Library for additional information.
If anyone out there in the CRAFT community already has their own mini-lending library, we’d love to see pictures. Please show and tell in the comments below!