I’ve been aware of these Little Free Libraries for awhile now although I’ve yet to see one in person. I’m fascinated with the concept though -- that people would go out of their way to share books with total strangers.
Clearly, someone would have to be a real book lover to do this. It requires no little effort to find an appropriate box (i.e., one that has a shelf or two and is weather proof), then to mount that box at eye level so passersby can easily see what’s inside. Additionally, it must be securely anchored in a location that has a reasonable amount of traffic (foot, bicycle or car), and it must be easily accessible.
Most bookworms have a stash of used books that are just begging for a new life in someone else’s home. Many a good book has languished in a box in a closet or basement, or otherwise collected dust on some obscure shelf, never to be read again by its current owner. A Little Free Library box is the perfect solution to keep such books in circulation. And what better way to encourage reading, especially among children.
These boxes come in all shapes and sizes. They can be as simple as a small box with a door or one can get creative, like the maker of this Tardis box I saw in Google images. (For those unfamiliar with cult classic T.V. series, Dr. Who, a Tardis is a police phone booth that doubles as a time machine.)
Another imaginative host used an old apartment size refrigerator.
Really, anything with a shelf or two for the books will do, and a weather proof door so as not to damage the books.
The idea, however, isn’t just about giving books away; it’s about giving back by replenishing the box after availing yourself of its contents. Take a book; leave a book. That’s how it works. That way the book box will always have offerings available for the enjoyment of other participants – and in a wide variety of genres.
It also promotes a spirit of sharing among book lovers – and that’s a good thing.
If you’re interested in creating a Little Free Library box of your own, here are some simple instructions.
If you have a yard, just place it near the curb, like your mailbox. It might help to add a sign saying “Help yourself; it’s free,” or something to that effect. Maybe, “Take a book; leave a book.”
Personally, I don’t normally drive around with books in my car, so I might have to make a return trip to replace the book(s) I take. It wouldn’t be a bad idea, however, to keep a box of unwanted books in your trunk to ‘pay it forward’ periodically.
What a great project for home-schoolers! Together parent and child can design and build a little book box (instructions are plentiful online, or get creative). There are a few things to consider to assure the success of your project.
1. Planting a Little Free Library on your own property will eliminate a lot of red tape. Otherwise, you will need to seek the permission of the property owner at your intended location. If, however you have another location in mind, remember to ask permission of the owner of the property before installing your box.
2. Be sure your box is easily accessible to potential customers.
3. Make sure you box is safely anchored to avoid mishaps (or lawsuits).
If you live in an apartment complex, you might ask the management if a book shelf can be set up in the clubhouse or office to be designated as a Little Free Library location. I’ve seen such reading shelves in apartments, nursing homes, senior living facilities, and even in hospitals. What a thoughtful gesture to those who have limited mobility or are house-bound. Other possible locations might be schools or doctors' or dentists' offices.
Most the Starbucks and other coffee houses that I frequent have such book sharing shelves. There are even maps available online such as the one at littlefreelibraries.org. If you set up a book box, be sure to let them know so they can add it to their map.
So there you have it! The possibilities are endless! Now where is that doll house I played with as a kid? That oughta make a perfect little book box.