In just about every community you’ll find a library. But in some areas, libraries are not as accessible based on location and scarcity of available books. In keeping with the theme of uplifting folks through books, Little Free Library Organization has been promoting literacy since 2009. With the goal of building literacy across the globe, Little Free Library provides a unique answer for rural and urban communities who want to ensure access to books for everyone.
“The Little Free Library nonprofit organization is at the heart of a global book-sharing movement,” says Margaret Aldrich, Director of Communications for Little Free Library. “There are more than 90,000 registered Little Free Libraries around the world, in all 50 states and in 108 countries. Through these little libraries, millions of books are shared each year.”
The first book exchange took place in Hudson, Wisconsin when Todd Boll established the project in memory of his mother, a schoolteacher and lifelong reader.
“The Little Free Library nonprofit was established in 2012,” explains Aldrich who learned about the program when she was a journalist. As a leader in the nonprofit she says she’s “still amazed at the impact these little boxes of books have in bringing people together. I’m also impressed at what a universal and inclusive movement this is with stewards of all backgrounds, beliefs, socioeconomic levels and locations.”
It’s clear that books uplift people’s souls and provide a common denominator for engagement, not to mention the shared agreement of the power of literacy. From Ghana, Pakistan, Brazil, France to Japan, Little Free Libraries are scattered throughout the world.
A Little Free Library can be set up on just about any corner, managed by a community member who wants to promote literacy in their neighborhood. The libraries look similar to a large mailbox, or even a big birdhouse, but instead hold books for the community to share. You can start one by building and registering your Little Free Library or ordering a kit via the nonprofit website. This hub for a neighborhood book exchange, ensures that anyone can borrow a book or leave a book at one of the neighborhood Little Free Libraries.
But the project isn’t limited to a book exchange.
“In a twist on the traditional book club, Little Free Library’s Action Book Club combines reading with community service,” explains Aldrich. “Participants read books on timely topics, engage in lively discussions, and take part in meaningful—and fun—group service projects to benefit their communities. When Action Book Club members share their experiences online, they help start a ripple effect of positive activity across the country and around the world.”
Not only can you participate actively by using your Little Free Library and getting involved in the book clubs, but you can also contribute financially to keep them alive.
“Donations support our Impact Library Program which brings books and little libraries where they’re needed most,” says Aldrich. “Recipients include schools and community centers in high-needs areas, as well as families who want to make a difference in their neighborhoods.”
On a personal note, I’ve stumbled along a Little Free Library when I was in Lexington, Kentucky. I wasn’t certain what it was, but after learning more about this novel approach to literacy, I was incredibly impressed. And each one of them is very unique in its style and contents. It is certainly worth jumping on the Little Free Library website and taking a virtual tour of the adorable Little Libraries that people have built and host (https://littlefreelibrary.org) You can also look at the world map and find the Little Free Library closest to you.
When it comes to an innovative way to build a community and do good things within it, these boxes are full of promise. Little Free Library demonstrates that with a little ingenuity we can all uplift others through books.
Image Courtesy of Little Free Library