Little Free Library

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Little Free Library
A reader browsing a Little Free Library
Founder Todd Bol [1]
Key people Todd Bol, Rick Brooks
Mission Promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.[2]

Little Free Libraries are a community movement in the United States and worldwide that offers free books housed in small containers to members of the local community. They are also referred to as community book exchanges, book trading posts, pop-up libraries, and Noox (Neighbourhood bOOk eXchange), amongst other terms.[3]


The first Little Free Library

The idea was popularized in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009 when Todd Bol mounted a wooden container designed to look like a school house on a post on his lawn as a tribute to his mother, who was a book lover and school teacher. Bol shared his idea with his partner Rick Brooks who found many efficient ways to spread the word, and the idea spread rapidly. Library owners can create their own library box, usually about the size of a doll house, or purchase one from the website. Libraries may be registered for a fee and assigned a number at the organization's website. Libraries can be found through their GPS coordinates. Owners receive a sign that reads "Little Free Library". They often have the phrase, "Take a Book. Leave a Book."[4][5]

As of February 2013, all 50 states and 40 countries worldwide have been involved in the literary program.[6] The original goal was the creation of 2,150 Little Libraries, which would surpass the number of libraries founded by Andrew Carnegie. As of January 2014, there are over 15,000 Little Libraries worldwide, and counting. An estimated 1,650,000 books were donated and borrowed from 2010-2013.[7]

A Little Free Library in Nisswa, Minnesota.

The Little Free Library Index [8] is used to find locations and detailed information about the site.

Libraries have been donated to rural areas that have no libraries of their own, or that have been ravaged by disasters. Each Library is uniquely built incorporating materials from the community it is located in.[9]

Libraries of all shapes and sizes exist, from smaller collections in brightly painted wooden houses, to a library based on Dr Who’s own TARDIS. [10]


In late 2012, the village of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin denied permission to potential Little Free Library projects and required that an existing Little Free Library be removed because of a village ordinance that prohibited structures in front yards. Village trustees also worried about inappropriate material being placed in the boxes.[11] However, in August 2013, the village officially approved a new ordinance that specifically allowed Little Free Library boxes to be put up on private property.[12]

In June 2014, city officials in Leawood, Kansas shut down a Little Free Library due to city ordinance prohibiting detached structures[13] The family of the 9-year-old boy who built the structure created a Facebook Page to support amendment of Leawood's city code.[14] Another resident of the city who erected a Little Free Library was threatened with a $25 fine. There are discussions among the city's residents in working with the city to amend its code regarding free-standing structures in residents' front yards. [15]

See also[edit]

Little Free Library on M-22 just north of Frankfort, Michigan

Public bookcase


  1. ^ Durst, Kristen (7 March 2012). "'Little Free Libraries' Hope For Lending Revolution". All Things Considered. National Public Radio. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Little Free Library". Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Gollner, K., Webster, T. & Nathan, L. "The Neighborhood Book Exchange: Community Catalyst or Media Hype?". iConference 2013 Proceedings (pp. 697 - 700 ). doi: 10.9776/13323. University of British Columbia/University of Illinois IDEALS. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  5. ^ NBC nightly News
  6. ^ Kirch, Claire (Feb 8, 2013). "Building Momentum for Little Free Libraries". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  7. ^ "AboutUs"
  8. ^ "Little Free Library Index". Google Maps. Retrieved 2014-07-06. 
  9. ^ Ellis, Rehema (10 March 2012). "Using books to build community". The Daily Nightly (Madison, Wisconsin). MSNBC. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Stingl, Jim (10 November 2012). "Village slaps endnote on Little Libraries". Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  12. ^ "News & Notes: Aug. 7". Whitefish Bay Now. 7 August 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  13. ^ "City Forces 9-Year-Old Boy to Move “Little Free Library” From Front Yard". 20 June 2014. 
  14. ^ "Spencer's Little Free Library". 19 June 2014. 
  15. ^ "City to fine owners of Little Free Libraries". 18 June 2014. 

External links[edit]