In 2009, two Wisconsin residents saw an opportunity to celebrate the past and help people read into the future. Inspired by Andrew Carnegie’s support of public libraries of the 19th to 20th centuries and the coffee shops advertising “take a book, leave a book” sharing systems, they took the concept of “literacy for all” and created a movement that anyone can be part of -- Little Free Libraries.
Little Free Libraries are small collections of books housed in neighborhoods where people can share their love of reading by taking a new book and leaving one in its place.
The creators of this concept had a goal of 2,510 “little libraries” and reached it in August 2012 -- a year and a half before they planned to. By January 2015, they had roughly 25,000 registered little libraries and counting. You too can assist in helping with a sharing library. Here’s how.
How can I help?
Anyone can create a Little Free Library. You can either build your own library or purchase one through their online catalog. Be sure to find out your zoning laws in your area before posting. You want to legally and safely house your library. A place with a lot of foot traffic and is highly visible is ideal. Also, decide whether you will be the steward maintaining the library, or if you'd rather share the duties with someone else.
What does a steward have to do?
The steward keeps the library stocked and tidy. They are also the main person to promote the library and keep the traffic going. To start, you should get your steward packet and register the library. If someone has books they would like to donate, they can leave them in the house or bring them to the steward if there are too many. You can also find books through a book swap or a library book sale -- just do a little research about upcoming events in your area.
How much will it cost me?
You will need some funds for starting up, so get creative. This is a community project, so consider hosting a local fundraising event advertising what you are doing and ask your neighbors to bring a buck and a book. It is something your neighbors will benefit from, so some will likely be willing to lend a hand to get it started.
Another option is crowdfunding. Get a Kickstarter going and send the link to your social network. It doesn’t take a lot to get started, and you may find support in places you weren't expecting.
How can people find our little library?
Get on the map! After you have officially registered, you can sign up to be on the world map for little libraries. People can do a search on the area and find you instantly. It’s a great way to get people from outside your community to be part of the library. They may be visiting or driving through the area, but once you are registered on the map, they won’t miss you.
So get involved, get reading, and enjoy your community project.