I love reading, I love books, and I always have. As a kid, I would check out a ton of books from the school library and devour them. Sometimes my parents would take me to the community library, but I’ll never forget the day that there was a knock at our front door and a lady from the library was asking to talk to my mom. Apparently, a book I had borrowed, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (I still remember the name!), was so overdue that they came looking for it. Can you imagine how mortified my mom must have been!
As soon as each of my kids learned to write their name, I took them to the library to get a library card and start checking out books. I have such great memories of bringing them to the library every few weeks. As you can imagine, I was so scarred by what happened with the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle book that I was diligent about returning books on time.
A few months ago, I read about someone in a town nearby who was starting a Little Free Library in front of her house. This was an organization I had heard about years ago, and when I was reminded of it, I looked it up on the internet and talked to my husband about creating one ourselves. The whole idea of this is that you have a small “cabinet”, usually on a pole in front of your house or in front of a community structure, and it is stocked with some books for all different ages. Anyone can come and take a book, free of charge, with the hope that that person will also donate a book in it’s place, if they are able. The whole concept is pretty awesome, in my opinion.
I want to give you a little history of this organization because I think it’s so interesting. In 2009, Todd Bol of Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse. It was a tribute to his mother; she was a teacher who loved to read. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it, so he built several more and gave them away.
Rick Brooks, who was an Outreach Program Manager at the University of Wisconsin saw Bol’s do-it-yourself project while they were discussing potential social enterprises. They were inspired by community gift-sharing networks, “take a book, leave a book” collections in coffee shops and public spaces.
By 2010, the name Little Free Library was established with the purpose of sharing books and bringing communities together. The first official Little Free Library was put on a bike path in Madison, Wisconsin in the summer of 2010. Within a few months, thousands of people had seen the Library. In 2011, they achieved national media attention, and by the end of the year there were nearly 400 Little Free Libraries in existence. By 2012, there were over 4,000, and Little Free Library became a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. By 2020, they had over 100,000 libraries in over 100 countries.
There are many ways someone can start one of these libraries. You can make one out of some sort of existing container. For instance, we were originally going to repurpose an old, broken wine refrigerator, but, honestly, it just seemed like too much work. You can find plans to build your own Little Free Library online or you can go to their website and buy a pre-made one. Bingo! That’s what we did. However, I did buy one that was unpainted, and I painted it myself with a color called Paddington Blue, and then I free-hand painted the covers of a few of our favorite children’s books on the outside of it. I painted “The Hungry Caterpillar”, “Goodnight, Moon!” and “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”. We are going to keep books for both adults and children in it, but I didn’t think painting the cover of a Stephen King book on the side of it would be quite as inviting.
Once you get your Little Free Library, you can pay to have a plaque that gives a charter number. You attach the plaque to the side or front of your library, and you register it on their website and you can put it on their world map. It’s kind of fun to look at the map to see where others are located. You can put in your town or zip code and it will show you where the closest one is to you.
On the website, you can see a lot of cute examples of the creative littlebr libraries people have made. They also give a lot of suggestions on ways to promote it in your community, such as having a grand opening, handing out flyers, putting up signs, posting it in your neighborhood newsletter and posting it on a community website like Next Door. This is definitely something that you could create a really fun celebration for by getting neighbors together for a block party, barbeque, potluck, etc., and it would be a great way to meet some of the people in your neighborhood.
I’m planning to make some of the laminated bookmarks that I made in my YouTube video about hosting a Bring A Book Baby Shower. You can watch the tutorial by going to my YouTube channel or following this link.
I will put out something on the side of our library that I can put a bunch of bookmarks in, and put out a sign letting everyone know they can take one.
I really hope that our Little Free Library will be successful in giving people in my neighborhood some incentive to try some new books. With cooler weather on it’s way, there will be more people taking the opportunity to stay inside their warm houses to curl up with a book and a cup of coffee, hot cocoa or some wine. Sounds like heaven, to me!
I hope this will maybe inspire you to take a look at their website. If you don’t want to create your own library, maybe you will look one up in your area and visit it to take a book and leave a book. It might help inspire your kids to read more, and it’s a good chance to donate a few books that you no longer need.
Thank you for stopping by my website and reading my blog. And please check out my new video this week. It will be posted to my YouTube channel on Friday, October 1. This week will be a tutorial on making some cute Halloween luminaries, using mason jars. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_ET7yuAkvitxSsBhPoc0nw
Halloween Party Planning – Part 5
I hope that you have sent out your Halloween party invitations. Soon you will be receiving your RSVP’s the way I have. This is the time to start decorating your house. Next week, I will be giving you some ideas on porch decorations.
I hope you find something to celebrate this week. xoxo