My current obsession.

My current obsession.

I spotted my first Little Free Library at the Omni Starbucks in Richmond, Virginia almost two years ago. I noticed it—I even instagrammed it—but I didn’t really know what I was looking at.

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a Little Free Library carved into a tree in Hampton, NH (photo)

The first Little Free Library—though it wasn’t called that yet—was built in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009. Todd Bol built a miniature one-room schoolhouse to honor his mother, a teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books, and put it on a pole in his front yard with a sign that said FREE BOOKS. It was a hit.

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a Little Free Library in Crescent Hill, Louisville, Kentucky

He built several more and gave them away. The grassroots movement caught on. Bol’s original goal was for 5,210 Little Free Libraries: that’s one more than Andrew Carnegie built, which would make the Little Free Library movement the world’s largest library network.

Now—just a few years later—there are about 15,000 officially registered Little Free Libraries.

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this Little Free Library is a gift of interactive art for its Corvallis, Oregon neighborhood (photo

I’m in love with the idea and am seriously considered putting one in my yard. (Books + whimsy, how can I resist?)

The Little Free Libraries come in all shapes and sizes. Kits can be purchased on the Little Free Library website, or owners can create whatever kind of structure they’d like, limited only by their imagination and, in some instances, zoning laws.

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a little red phone booth in Vancouver (photo)

Some Little Free Libraries are shaped like birdhouses; some are shaped like phone booths. Some are carved into trees; some are carved into garages. Some look like school buses; some look like RVs. There’s even a Little Free Bike Library.

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Little Free Bike Library of Chino Hills, California (photo by Andrew Scott, steward)

Personally, I love the miniature house-shaped ones that the creators personalize in every way imaginable.

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I made Will stop the car on a busy Pensacola street so I could jog back a block to snap this photo. Can you blame me?

Do you have a Little Free Library near you? Would you ever want to have one yourself? And if you know of any more in Louisville, let me know so I can hunt them down!

P.S. You can watch a twelve-minute documentary about the Little Free Library movement here.

P.P.S. One past obsession. And another one.

57 comments | Comment

57 comments

  1. Katherine says:

    There are a couple around Charlottesville that I have seen. Our neighbor also has a “free stuff” table, and I love that too:) One mans’ trash is another mans’ treasure…

  2. Rachel says:

    I live in the Milwaukee area and they are all over the place. Several in our neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods. They have also made an effort in one community to place them at non-profits that service financial challenged families (food pantries, shelters, etc) to provide it as a resource to them and encourage reading/literacy. We have discussed putting one up in our yard but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Some cute ideas here though.

  3. Amy says:

    I’ve never even heard of Little Free Libraries, but after looking at the map, I can see there are TWO on our short drive to school. I’m going to be checking them out this morning!

    • Amy says:

      Update: I found both of them on our drive home from school, plus an extra one that I didn’t know about! What fun! I want to put one on our street.

  4. Natalie O. says:

    I would really like to put one up. We’ve talked about it, I wonder if it would be used in my suburban neighborhood, but it wouldn’t hurt to try! We do get a fair number of people strolling by our house. Whenever I see one it makes me smile!

  5. Sarah M says:

    I love these, too. So far I think I’ve seen three near where I live (well, within a 45 minute radius), one lives in the same yard as a yarn-bombed tree (would LOVE to meet those people!), another is near a community garden, and the third is at the beach!
    Sarah M

  6. Polly says:

    Yes, I love these! We live in Seattle and we pass two on our walk to school and my kids check them every single day. We’ve gotten some fun books that way and I pass on old books too. Everybody wins.

  7. Erica M. says:

    There’s a couple on the way to church here. They’re really cute! If our library wasn’t within a walk I’d put one up here. (That’s one valid criticism I’ve heard-people saturate one area with them. I like the idea of putting them up in lower-income areas where kids are less likely to be able to buy books or even have proper access to a library.)

  8. liz n. says:

    We live in an historical neighborhood. Our next-door neighbors put one up–it was a miniature version of their house–and then the Historical Society made them take it down. Boooooooo, hisssssss!

  9. About two months ago, it seemed like overnight my little New York City neighborhood of Inwood popped up three of them! I don’t think they are “Official” Little Free Libraries, but they are small book shelves labeled “Leave a Book, Take a Book” and we have one in front each of our local coffee shops. I’m obsessed, too!

  10. Breanne says:

    These are so fun!! And I love the concept of free books plus getting people to interact in the community. Every house needs a touch of whimsy. =)

  11. Kristie says:

    Your Youth Advisory Board did one this past Spring. It’s in a local park in Huntsville, TX. I’ll have to check and see if there are any more in my area.

    Such a neat project!

  12. Lee Ann Roberts says:

    The last time I checked, there are three Little Free Libraries in my city. I’m thinking of starting one, since there are none on my side of town.

  13. kelli says:

    we found one near us that was a little Tardis – since my daughter and her cousin are HUGE Doctor Who fans, of course we had to visit! We took goofy pictures and loved leaving a book and taking a book. Such a fun idea!

  14. Kate says:

    We have one every 3 blocks or so in our neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota! I think we have so many because the town where they started isn’t that far away. This is also a neighborhood with three colleges within walking distance of each other so readers abound. Thanks for the great post!

  15. I literally have one right around the corner from my house. Yep. And I think of you every time I pass it. However, I’ve never used it… I have too many books in my own personal library that I need to read! 😉

  16. Sarah R in WI says:

    I have one! I just put it up last weekend, in fact. It’s been so fun! I’ve had several “customers” and it’s a great way to get to know fellow book lovers. I am a huge bookworm but generally do not re-read books, so this is a perfect way for me to “share the wealth.” I’d love to answer any questions if you have some!

    PS – We live in Brookfield, WI, which is a suburb of Milwaukee. There is another one in my subdivision and at least two more within an easy drive of me.

  17. Liza Lee Grace says:

    I haven’t seen any in my area. I’ve known about them for a long time and have loved the idea from the start! I didn’t know you could search to find one near you.

    I’d love to build one, but I doubt our HOA would allow it. They can be ridiculously picky at times.

  18. Danielle says:

    The city I live in recently just added one in front of every fire station (of which I believe there are five). There were already two in twin and they’re just all so dang cute! I typically check to see if there are any good finds when Silas, my 17 month old, is sleeping in the car. 🙂

  19. How funny, I just saw my first one yesterday in our town park. Sadly, I didn’t have time to go take a close look since I was toddler wrangling. Will have to go back another time and peruse its selection.

  20. I’ve never seen anything like this where we live in Southern California. Such a great idea! We don’t get much foot traffic on our street, but maybe our HOA would let us put one at our park. I’m checking the links out now 🙂

  21. Virginia says:

    I love this idea! My friend found one last month on her block after she moved to Philadelphia! She sent me a picture and I was smitten. I had no idea it was a whole movement though! Now I really want to make one!!!

  22. renee @ FIMBY says:

    I saw one of these out in the woods on the Appalachian Trail. Wracking my brain where… I think NY or CT. I took a photo, when I edit the photos when I get back home if I remember I’ll send it to you. It was the coolest thing to see, in the woods of all places!

    • Anne says:

      ON the trail?? That just might be the best yet. (Yes, please send a pic when you’re home if you remember. I’ve so enjoyed reading snippets about your trip. 🙂 )

  23. Amy says:

    There is one in the back courtyard of my church. It is an exact replica of the church…my kids and I have used it many times:)

  24. Darnetta Bolton says:

    A Boy Scout in our neighborhood was responsible for bringing 4 new LFL’s to our area for a total of 5! They are so cute . I absolutely love them!

  25. PhotogJenn says:

    I’ve wanted one ever since I first found out about the Little Free Library! I even have the perfect neighborhood for one, and can’t figure out why we don’t have one already.

  26. I saw one of these just yesterday! I was SO confused, and didn’t have time to turn around and go back and figure it out. I officially now want to move to the neighborhood where I saw it!

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