Little Free Libraries Appear in All Sorts of Places

Local bookstores are becoming harder to find, but readers worldwide are helping ensure that books still play a role in making a community a great place to live

Take a Book, Leave the Flowers

En español | In big ways and small, Little Free Libraries similar to the one pictured here help make communities more livable. Learn why they exist, where they're located and, if you're so inspired, how to create one for where you live. »


Minneapolis, MN | Photo courtesy Little Free Library

This Schoolhouse Rocks

In 2009, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one-room schoolhouse in honor of his mother, a former teacher. He put the little building on a post in his front yard and filled it with books to give away. »

Photo courtesy Little Free Library

Once Upon a Time

Bol's neighbors and friends liked his little book box, so he built more and gave them away. In 2012, Little Free Library became a nonprofit, and the idea grew into a global movement. »

Austin, TX | Photo courtesy Little Free Library

Books for Kids and Adults

By the end of 2016, more than 50,000 Little Free Libraries of varying sizes and styles had been installed in all 50 U.S. states and more than 70 countries. »

Enfield, Ireland | Photo courtesy Little Free Library

The Little Free Library Mission

Little Free Library describes itself as an "organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world." »

Phoenix, AZ | Photo courtesy Little Free Library

Books for Girls and Boys

A Little Free Library can be made out of anything, including an old newspaper box. Interested donors can help place Little Free Libraries where they're needed most by donating to the nonprofit's Impact Fund»

St. Louis, MO | Calgary, Canada | Photos courtesy Little Free Library

Self-Service Shopping

Initially referred to as Habitats for the Humanities and Houses of Stories, the name Little Free Library came about because that's what users were calling the book distribution boxes. »

Mountlake Terrace, WA | Photo courtesy Little Free Library

The Little Book Swap

As "Take a Book, Return a Book" free book exchanges, Little Free Libraries are like mini town squares where people can share books with neighbors. »

Appleby, England | Photo courtesy Little Free Library

A World of Books

Hosts (or stewards) are asked to register their structures for adding to the online Little Free Library world map. The book exchanges operate on the honor system. Readers may take a book without leaving one, but adding is encouraged. »

Lawrence, KS | Photo courtesy Little Free Library

Homemade or Ready-Made

The cost to build a little library varies based on the materials and labor involved. Ready-made libraries range from $149 to $995, and kits are also available. A Little Free Library registration fee includes an engraved charter sign. »

Estes Park, CO | Sandy Spings, GA | Photos Melissa Stanton and Little Free Library

Custom Construction

Library makers are encouraged to use their imaginations for how they want their book sharing structures to look. The Little Free Library website offers plans and tips for library builders. »

Traverse City, MI | Photo courtesy Little Free Library

Books Bloom in the Desert

Library stewards are encouraged to use their libraries for community activities, such as for a summer reading club, children's story time, a book club or holiday gift exchange. »

Tuscon, AZ | Photo courtesy Little Free Library

Giving Back

Little Free Library's Action Book Club invites people to "read books on timely topics" and "take part in meaningful — and fun — service projects to benefit their communities." This library was created by a community garden volunteer. »

Pittsburgh, PA | Photo by Rebecca Delphia

Don't Forget to Shut the Door

Oh, wait. The pulley and weight on this Little Library, built by an architect and his three young daughters, is the engineering for a self-closing door. Library doors do need to be closed to protect the books from wind, rain and snow.

Arlington, VA | Photo by David Goodman

Self-Serve for All Sizes

Kids can be in charge of a library. Businesses and police or fire departments can adopt a library. Bibliophiles can share books — including, in the case of the blue library, those by a famous neighbor. (Can you guess who?) »

Minneapolis, MN | Bangor, ME | Photos from Little Free Library and Melissa Stanton

A King's Castle

Author Stephen King doesn't have a Little Free Library at his spooky, gated home, which is a fan attraction. If he's in need of a read or wants to donate copies of The Shining or Misery, he can take a short stroll to his neighbor's little library.

Bangor, ME | Photo by Melissa Stanton

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Published February 2017

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