“If I may be so bold, I’m the most successful person I know,” “Because I stimulate 54 million books to be read and neighbors to talk to each other. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the very definition of success.” — Todd Bol, founder of Little Free Library
You may have already seen the Little Free Library in your local neighborhood. It consists of a wooden box resembling a dollhouse with a clear glass door with free books inside.
According to their website, the Little Free Library is “a nonprofit organization, promotes literacy, creativity, and community through its book exchanges that bear the same name.”
The movement began in Wisconsin in 2009 as the late Todd Bol’s tribute to his mother, a former teacher who loved reading. He mounted a small box for books and left it in his front yard, encouraging people to take, read, and return the free books.
The idea took off and spread initially nationwide. There are now over 100,000 Little Free Libraries in over 100 countries. More than 200 million books have been shared by way of these libraries around the globe.
The concept behind it is you take any book you like, replacing it with another book. The latter ensures the library always contains books to read. The library functions on the honor system.
These libraries are usually located inside grocery stores or at parks. Our city has a book box inside a Walmart as well as another one at a neighborhood park.
Volunteers noted an increase in Little Free Libraries during pandemic shutdowns, as people needed to find ways to pass the time. The libraries provided comfort to many, particularly in rural areas, where broadband internet is not always guaranteed.
We never hesitate to look through the books and pick one or two to take home and read at our leisure.
Book exchanges offer an invaluable reading and learning resource to users of all ages. They also build strong neighborhood relationships and improve literacy.
Anybody can start their own Little Free Library in their area. Choose a good location in your community, purchase a box, and register it on their website. It will then show up on a locator map.
To find a location in your area, do an internet search for “Little Free Library.”
Do you have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? Please share in the comments.
A version of this article originally appeared on Medium.