Todd Bol’s library looked nothing like conventional libraries seen in towns and cities worldwide. His was much smaller, hand-built out of scrap wood, and modeled after a one-room school house. He added a sign above the school house doorway that read ‘Little Free Library’.
In 2009, Todd stocked the little school house with books, mounted it on a post in his front yard, and invited friends and neighbors to browse. It became a popular attraction, with visitors selecting books, dropping off others, and sharing in the joys of reading.
Todd Bol’s simple act spawned a world-wide movement. Today, there are over 50,000 registered Little Free Libraries (LFL) around the globe with new ones sprouting up on every continent except – so far at least – Antarctica. Most bear ‘take a book, leave a book’ signs, but that is more a suggestion than a rule. There are no enforcers, no guardians, only stewards keen on spreading the written word.
Winnipeg, my hometown, caught the wave in 2012 when Charlene Roziere erected the city’s first one at 273 Mandeville Street. Today there are dozens more, most in front yards, but others in school playgrounds, coffee shops or along lanes – wherever book lovers are likely to congregate.
Anyone can join the movement. The Little Free Library website provides Instructions on how to build and register a Little Free Library. Once registered, the new LFL is added to a website map that pinpoints the location of each registered Little Free Library. Click on the pin, and a box opens providing details and a photo or two.
The LFL website has downloadable blueprints and if you are so inclined, you can even order one pre-built. But for handy folks and those with a creative edge, here’s your chance to go shine. While there are some basic guidelines, your Little Free Library can be constructed out of almost any material and in just about any architectural style you desire.
To whet your creative appetite, here’s a small sample of LFLs, drawn from a variety of sources across the Internet.