reviewed by Mary Jedlicka Humston
Many of you have probably seen or heard about those “tiny, little houses” with free books inside that are popping up in neighborhoods all over the world. Perhaps, some of you even steward a Little Free Library like we Marys both do. Still, have you heard these amazing facts and statistics?
The first Little Free Library was created in 2009, just seven years ago.
There are now more than (are you ready for this?) 40,000 LFLs around the globe in all 50 states and in 70 countries. Nearly a thousand new ones spring up every month.
Through these LFLs, an estimated 35 million books are shared each year. All I can say to that is, “Wow.”
It truly is remarkable, especially considering the humble beginning of the LFL movement, which wasn’t even a movement at the time.
It started as a gift to a mother.
The Little Free Library Book: Take A Book, Return A Book by Margret Aldrich, further explains the story about how Todd Bol of Hudson, WI built a small model of a one-room school house as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put the little house on a sturdy post in the front yard with a sign that read “Free Books.”
A simple gift to a mother from her son. That is how this grassroots phenomenon began.
Aldrich presents the early history of LFLs. She details the ins and outs: how to build one, design it, stock it with books, and steward it. She offers tips on maintenance and explains why people decide to join the ranks of LFL stewardship.
The Little Free Library Book, perfect for coffee table display, includes bright, quality photographs of multiple libraries around the globe and the stories that accompany them. Some libraries are extraordinary. Some extravagant. Some simple. When you read Aldrich’s book and view the variety of designs, you’ll be impressed by what this movement has morphed into.
Mary and I have so many heartwarming stories about our LFL experiences that I could go on and on with this review. Suffice it to say, if you love to read, if you love libraries, and love free books, then maybe being a LFL steward is in your future.
Because one thing is certain: further growth of the LFL movement is inevitable. These little houses on posts are serving a need: to get books into people’s hands by opening up a new avenue outside traditional library walls and by offering another reading outreach to communities, hooking readers of all generations.
I love this quote from Archibald Macleish:
“What is more important in a library than anything else…than everything else….is the fact that it exists.”
I’m so glad Little Free Libraries exist. I hope you will read Aldrich’s book to learn more about them.
Mary Jedlicka Humston’s Little Free Library, visited by Santa Claus last December
Mary Potter Kenyon’s Little Free Library in front of her Manchester, Iowa home