Running a library is easier than you think. Forget the degree in library and information science and the carefully chosen prudish getups with easy-pull ripcords that turn them into sexy outfits. All you need is a box on a stick and a bunch of books to set up a Little Free Library, a front-yard stash that lets you share your love of reading with the community.
The idea behind the Little Libraries really couldn’t be simpler: Take everything people love about libraries. Strip out the rent costs and the shushing and the late fees and the library cards and the local weirdos looking at porn on shared computers and the schoolkids poring over boring books nobody else reads. You will now have a Bookmobile. Take the wheels off, and what you’re left with is a box of books for anyone to borrow, read, enjoy, and return.
Of course, real libraries have some advantages over Little Libraries, notably internet access and a much, much bigger selection. But community members who use the pocket libraries are free to supplement the collection from their own shelves, so each Little Library may have a rotating cast of books. And while Little Free Libraries may not be staffed with research experts, each one does come with the knowledge that someone in your neighborhood cared enough about community enjoyment and literacy to make his or her lawn into a reading room. That’s pretty cool.
There are hundreds of Little Free Libraries in operation across 24 states and eight countries — 300 or 400, according to co-founder Rick Brooks. If you want to find one, the website (littlefreelibrary.org, of course) maintains a map of library locations. And if you’d rather start your own, they also have instructions on how to order or build the perfect tiny book hutch. Happy lending!
Get Grist in your inbox