Going to the library or the bookstore is great when you know exactly what you’re looking for, but there is another way to find great books right around the corner. If the grand selection of a library or bookstore is overwhelming, find a hidden gem within a lending library.
With no pressure to return or pay for the book, lending libraries offer a small selection of books placed there by others in your community. A lending library typically resembles a mailbox, although it can take many forms. They are often set up in locations that get a lot of foot traffic, such as parks or community centers.
A Nonprofit organization called Free Little Library brought this idea large scale. Founded in 2012 by Todd H. Bol, their mission is to make books more accessible, inspire people to read, and build community.
Each Little Library is set up by a steward in the community with supplies that can be purchased from the organization, but individuals can use their own supplies. The steward can hand-paint the library however they like before putting it up for community use. The steward is also responsible for keeping the library looking tidy and clean. They visit the library regularly to ensure it hasn’t fallen over, been tampered with, or left open.
The best part? The community is responsible for keeping it stocked with new and interesting books. The little libraries all say, “Take a book. Share a book,” encouraging readers to keep the libraries stocked with books they may own, allowing each library to be completely unique and the community to share books they loved.
Where to find them
Luckily you don’t just have to walk around hoping you stumble into them (although that’s the fun part). Free Little Library has made the hard part easy! On their website and app is a comprehensive map of all registered little libraries. On the app, you’re able to read about and see pictures of the libraries that stewards share.
If you’ve got the itch to read this summer but aren’t sure what you’re looking for, try a Free Little Library near you!