6 Reasons Why a Little Free Library is a Wonderful Idea

by Kassandra Lamb

a little free library in my neighborhood

Have you heard of the little free library movement? Here’s the one that sprang up in my neighborhood recently. The idea is that anyone can take a book or leave a book.

The first Little Free Library was built by Todd H. Bol in honor of his mother, a schoolteacher who loved books. Todd then went on to establish a not-for-profit organization to spread these little libraries everywhere.

So here are 6 reasons why having one in your neighborhood is a great idea.

1st little free library

First Little Free Library (photo by Lisa Colon DeLay CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

1.  Free Books: The most obvious reason is people get free books. This is particularly important for kids in poorer households. Two out of three of them have no books in their home, according to the little free library website.

But for all of us, what a treat! Take the family for an evening walk and get the kiddos each a new(ish) book (and one or two for yourself). You get to watch their little faces light up and you don’t have to spend a dime.

Then read those stories, take them back, and get some more.

2.  Community: In addition to “inspiring reading,” one of the goals listed on the little free library website is to “build community.”

That has certainly worked with the one my neighbor set up. I’d never really paid much attention to who lived in that house, even though I’d often admired the house itself. It’s a beautiful example of a Florida “Cracker” house.

But now I wave every time I walk by. And they smile and wave back, especially if I stop and check out what new books have appeared in their library. Indeed, whenever you pass someone in that particular stretch of sidewalk, they’re likely to have a friendly smile on their face and give you an extra enthusiastic nod as you go by.

little free library with dogs painted on it

Little Free Library in Bennett Park, Manhattan (photo by Beyond My Ken CC-BY-SA 4.0 International)

How could one look at that cute little library and NOT smile?

3.  Creativity: Another goal listed on the site is “sparking creativity.” Some people stick to a rather plain library.

But others get quite creative, expressing their particular passions and/or decorating their library to express the place it is located.

There are even quite a few themed libraries such as those honoring Harry Potter.

4.  A Place to Take Used Books: There was a time when you could put a box of books out at a yard sale, with a sign: “Paperbacks–25 cents; Hardcover–50 cents,” and the box would be mostly empty by the end of the day.

Now many avid readers prefer ebooks, and not even my church’s youth group will take “tree” books anymore for their annual fundraiser.

little free library in Albuquerque

Here’s one in Albuquerque NM (photo by Anthony Inswasty CC-BY-SA 4.0 International)

If you are a true book lover, this creates a very real dilemma. One simply cannot just throw out a book!  I also read mostly ebooks, but now the occasional paperback that I buy or is given to me has a place to go once I’ve read it.

5. Exposure for Local Authors: Of course, I put a copy of my To Kill A Labrador in there, with the cute pic of the Black Lab star of the book showing. It was gone in a day. I’m thinking I’ll put the next book in the series in there soon. And maybe the first book in my other series…

6. LittleFreeLibrary.org makes it easy: They have detailed instructions on their user-friendly site that cover everything from choosing the right spot, building your little library, and installing it. They tell you exactly how to erect the pole and platform for it, but you can also put it on a table or a wall…

On a wall in London

On a wall in London (photo by Philafrenzy CC-BY-SA 4.0 International)

Or they even suggest “planting” it in big flower pot with stones or dirt and flowers around it. That way, it is “portable” (I put this in quotes because I think you’d need at least two burly neighbors to help you move it.)

And a bonus reason…have you noticed that these are all over the world? If you set up your own little free library (or even if you just have one nearby), you get to feel like you are part of a global community!

Have you spotted a Little Free Library near you? Have you ever considered setting one up?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kass is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

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  • Reply
    Barb Taub
    May 8, 2018 at 2:24 am

    What a lovely idea! Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      May 8, 2018 at 11:20 am

      I thought so. I got quite excited when I saw our new addition to the neighborhood.

  • Reply
    K.B. Owen
    May 8, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    That’s very cool! I haven’t seen any in our vicinity, at least not yet. But a fab act of generosity.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      May 8, 2018 at 8:12 pm

      I had heard of them before, but this is the first one I’ve seen in my town. It really is a fab idea!!

  • Reply
    Bill Bliss
    May 9, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    Great idea. The book my wife is reading was one I picked up at a little free library last Sunday. “Tree books” rock.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      May 9, 2018 at 11:20 pm

      Especially FREE tree books!

  • Reply
    Lynette M Burrows
    May 10, 2018 at 8:10 am

    The first little free library in our community caused quite a stir several years ago. It was put up by the family at the request of their little girl and included a cute reading bench. The neighborhood association did not think it was cute and demanded they take it down. The girl’s parents and the community protested, getting the press involved, and the neighborhood association relented. Since then they’ve sprung up all over the place. We even have one across the street from us. I get to watch the people walk up, peruse, make a choice, and walk away smiling. It’s great!

  • Reply
    Kassandra Lamb
    May 10, 2018 at 9:36 am

    Which is why I try not to live in communities with HOAs. Glad the community shouted them down.

    And what a delightful thing to have as your view out the front window! Bet it brightens your day on a regular basis.

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    May 16, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    I love little libraries. A huge delight was finding one about two miles from my house that contained my book, Murder, Honey. Granted it was a pre-misterio press edition, but still it was in the case right beside Water for Elephants. 🙂 This was also a weird coincidence because I’d just won the Writers’ Police Academy’s Golden Donut Award and the judge for the contest was–Sara Gruen.

  • Reply
    Kassandra Lamb
    May 18, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Wow, small world category! That had to be quite a thrill to see your book in there.

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