Little Free Libraries started popping up years ago, but it wasn’t until just recently that I spotted one for myself. I was out for a walk on a street I’d never been to when I saw it. The dollhouse-sized library instantly made me smile and I couldn’t help but take a peek at the selection inside. Nothing worth taking, unfortunately, but I was still so happy to see it.
The concept behind these little gems is simple: take a book or leave a book. That’s it.
It seems like a great way to get to know people in your community. Speaking as someone who very rarely talks to any of her neighbours, these libraries and the books inside could give me something to chat about and probably help me get over my initial shyness.
Since I live in Toronto, which has the world’s most-used public library system, it’s no surprise that there are tons of these little free libraries located in my city. Sweet news stories about these little boxes of joy appear in pretty much every local paper in the world, and generally, people are pretty happy about them. But occasionally these libraries make people mad, some even going as far as to issue cease and desist letters. This LA Times article does a great job at pointing out just how ridiculous that is:
“Crime, homelessness and crumbling infrastructure are still a problem in almost every part of America, but two cities have recently cracked down on one of the country’s biggest problems: small community libraries where residents can share books.”
After my walk that day, I felt pretty inspired to set up my own Little Free Library. Luckily there are tons of resources to get you started, whether you want to build your own from scratch or buy one that’s ready to go. If you need some inspiration of your own, check out this Mental Floss slideshow or these ideas from Morning Chores.
When I do get around to starting my own, I’ll probably take it pretty seriously since it will allow me to live out my book nerd fantasy of being a librarian. I can only hope these Little Free Library rules of etiquette will be observed.
Keep it clean
You shouldn’t need me to tell you that books in the library should be appropriate for all your neighbours regardless of age or background. A little book controversy never hurt, but if you put something way out there in the library be prepared for it to be removed by anyone who isn’t happy to see it.
Keep ’em coming
There is no set rule that says you have to return a book you take from the library, but the decent thing to do is to add a book for every book you take away. This will ensure that the library stays well stocked for everyone to enjoy.
Give the good stuff
Don’t think of the Little Free Library as a place you can just dump books you don’t like. Throw in the occasional bestseller or classic. Because people who frequent libraries deserve to read good books, too.