As Los Angeles area libraries struggle with increasingly limited budgets and shrinking business hours, a small library alternative is growing.
Little Free Libraries is a DIY movement of volunteers building or buying a small wooden bookcase, stocking it full of books and setting it up in their front lawn for their community. People can borrow, take or donate a book. No library card is needed. No late fees. No Dewey Decimal System. And best of all, they are always open and never subject to budget cuts.
So far the Little Free Library in Sacramento, run by Jef Spencer, is the only one in California. As the Sacramento Press reports, copies of popular books like Harry Potter and Twilight have been stocked, as well as magazines, children’s books, cookbooks and more. Spencer hand built the book case, which holds 30-40 books at a time. People have donated a large number of books, often anonymously. Through the Little Free Library, they get distributed back out into the community. From the Sacramento Press article:
Spencer said there is one little girl, about 7 or 8, who walks home from school with her parents. He said she will take a book and bring it back when she has read it.
Inspired by Andrew Carnegie’s Free Community Libraries, the first Little Free Library was set up in Hudson, Wisconsin, by social entrepreneur Todd Bol in memory of his mother June A. Bol. That was over a year ago and already the project has grown to about 40 libraries across the country. Are you near one? If you’re interested in starting one, you can buy a Little Free Library bookcase, join the club’s network to get listed on their website and receive other perks, or simply build your own, if you’re that crafty.
Founders Bol and Rick Brooks also envision a network of Little Free Libraries in cities:
Local nonprofits, businesses and institutions have expressed an interest in supporting 10, 20 or more Little Libraries as part of their outreach efforts. Imagine a string of “Take a Book, Return a Book” Little Libraries every other mile on a metropolitan bike path, each with a different theme and great reading materials.
Sounds like a great idea! Naturally I’d love to see a graphic novel or comics themed Little Free Library. And note how they use comics for their How To instructions.