Building Communities with Little Free Library

During a walk in my neighborhood, I noticed that one of my neighbors had installed a Little Free Library in their yard. This delightful mini-library-on-a-post is a welcome addition to our block. I stepped forward and opened the clear Plexiglas door to take a closer peek at the books inside. There was a range of titles from children’s books to contemporary fiction and some thrillers! As I stood here admiring the collection a woman approached me and introduced herself as the steward of this Little Free Library.

She shared how thrilled she was to a part of this sharing movement. The Little Free Library is based on the honor system encouraging anyone to take a book, leave a book. Not only does the Little Free Library encourage people to share their favorite stories, it also aims to build a sense of community and spark conversation.

Background on Little Free Libraries

When I returned home I did a little research on the history of Little Free Libraries. Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin created little Free Libraries in 2009. They are built on a model of a one-room schoolhouse. It was a tribute to his mother; she was a teacher who loved to read. He filled the little library with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS. Rick Brooks of UW-Madison saw Bol’s do-it-yourself project while they were discussing potential social enterprises. Together, the two saw opportunities to achieve a variety of goals for the common good.

Their mission is: To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations.

A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common version is a small wooden box of As of June of 2016, there are 40,000 Libraries worldwide. With Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 countries around the world. Approximately 60 percent of Little Free Library book exchanges have been built by stewards and 40 percent built and sold by Little Free Library (see their website for details).

Take a book. Return a book.

After reading the history, I was so taken by the concept of sharing and promoting literacy and reading that I used the online map feature at www.littlefreelibrary.org to find other libraries near my home in Atlanta and other locations around town. During the next several weeks, I drove around dropping off copies of my novel Free of Malice with a note inviting Little Free Library stewards to read my book and share their impressions on social media using the hashtags #FreeofMalice #LittleFreeLibrary. To honor the sharing concept, I’m donating a portion of my online book sales to the Little Free Library organization and local libraries. My story was recently featured in Creative Loafing Atlanta.

Connecting neighbors. Sharing good reads.

To take the concept of sharing to the next level, I’m inviting my social media network to participate as well. I’m giving away 10 copies of Free of Malice over the July 4th holiday to Little Free Library stewards and readers who connect with me over social media and who want to continue the cycle of sharing and caring. Tweet or email me at liz [at] lizlazarus [dot] com to indicate that you are interested in reading #FreeofMalice, and if inclined will share a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads and most importantly that you will share the book with your local Little Free Library.

You can connect with me on Facebook at AuthorLizLazarus and Twitter and Instagram using @liz_lazarus. I’m also on Goodreads at Liz Lazarus to let me know that you are interested (or that you love Little Free Libraries). Use Hashtag #LFL and #freeofmalice.

Thank you for sharing, building community and sparking conversations.

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