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Have you ever seen those cute little boxes that look like birdhouses around your town or city? Those little boxes are part of the Little Free Library program and are full of BOOKS! I’ve seen them everywhere and always wanted to stop to see what they are all about. So, like any normal book nerd, I did my research and found many benefits of a Little Free Library.

What is a Little Free Library?

Kimberly at the Parkview Park Little Free Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana

The Little Free Library system began in Wisconsin by Todd Bol. He installed the first library in 2009 and formed the non-profit organization in 2012. His vision was to place books in the hands of readers in underserved communities. Little Free Libraries have taken the world by storm ever since.

There are over 100,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide. Caretakers of these libraries call themselves stewards. Stewards build libraries from scratch, buy them ready-made, or repurpose other items to create the libraries.

Stewards apply for a charter and vow to keep the libraries clean and well-stocked. Luckily, there are often discounts on books for stewards. Many stewards find that publishers will contribute books to the system if they only ask.

The popularity of these little treasures brings about change that encompasses entire cities. They provide literacy support and a reading lifestyle that allows children to grow up in a learning environment. This environment encourages them to greatness all their life.

What Are The Benefits of a Little Free Library?

Think Impact has a study that shows 54% of adults read below a sixth-grade level. Getting books in more hands leads to a lifetime of growing and learning.

According to the Little Free Library website, there are four main benefits to having a library in your area.

  • They support literacy by providing books of all different genres and age levels. Preschoolers to adults benefit from having books at their fingertips.
  • Adults who read are more likely to have children that read. This display of a reading lifestyle encourages the whole family to read together.
  • Communities and parents need an outlet to work together, and the Little Free Library program helps do that efficiently.
  • Boy Scouts, Rotary Clubs, schools, and more work to bring the Little Free Library to an underrepresented community. It allows parents the opportunity to instill a love of reading in their children and themselves. This community service encourages neighborhoods to work together.
Pin Image with the title and a picture of a little free library box.

How To Use a Little Free Library

The Little Free Library works on the honor system. The premise is to take a book and leave a book. With the handy map on the website or the free app, you can find Little Free Library locations worldwide.

Everyone from preschoolers to seniors can gain from using a LFL. You can choose a book 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are no set hours for a little library, making them more easily accessible to everyone.

In my area, most of our LFL terminals have locations in parks, but there are many located in people’s yards. Unfortunately, the most underserved areas have fewer libraries than more affluent neighborhoods. This disparity is why it is critical for people to sponsor or establish libraries in areas that need them most.

Little Free Library Programs

  • Read in Color is a program that encourages stewards to fill their libraries with diverse books from every culture. Patrons educate themselves with these books by learning about cultures different than their own. The Little Free Library site has an extensive list of books that fit every culture and age group. You can find even more recommendations at diversebooks.org.
  • The Impact Library Program offers incentives for establishing Little Free Libraries in underserved areas. There are funds available to help if you can’t afford to open a library of your own. Consider donating to this worthy cause.
  • The Action Book Club is a club that has designated themes at different times of the year. The themes dedicate themselves to people taking action in their neighborhood. Such as the current theme of In Our Nature, which encourages environmental advocacy. Past themes include Everyday Heroes which supports brave souls in the community and Come Together which encourages unity.

Frequently Asked Questions

You don’t have to return the same book to a Little free library. The books you choose are yours to do as you please. You may decide to return your book to the same library, a different library, or keep it for a while.

Since the Little Free Library works on the honor system, if you are able, you should leave a book when you take one. However, this is not required.

You can find a Little Free Library through the free mobile app or through the website locator map. You can look for areas near you or anywhere in the world.

I recently used the map in the app to locate Little Free Libraries in Seminole, Florida, where I was on vacation a few weeks ago.

There are a few ways to become a Little Free Library steward.

  • Buy a ready-made library from the Little Free Library website, where your charter comes with your purchase.
  • Buy plans to build your own library and purchase a charter membership after completion.
  • Have someone else in your community build it for you, then buy the charter membership.
  • Upcycle old items to create a unique and one-of-a-kind library. An example is a woman in Florida who took over old newspaper boxes to build the Little Free Libraries in. Once your library is complete, apply for an official charter.

Things to Keep in Mind About Little Free Libraries

The number one thing to keep in mind about the Little Free Library system is that they promote diversity, literacy, and community service. Each and every library provides endless entertainment to children and adults alike.

Tell me about the Little Free Libraries in your area in the comments. I look forward to hearing all about them!


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