I was recently ‘gifted’ with a book from a friend; unfortunately, the author and the plot were really not to my taste. Rather than letting the book sit and molder on my bookshelf, I decided to donate it and complete the cycle of gifting. I knew of many sources which happily accept gently used items – Value Village Thrift Stores, Talize, and Goodwill being just a few examples.
Then I went out on a long walk one evening along Margaret Street in Waterloo and noticed a box (which resembled a bird house) attached to a fence along someone’s property. The box appeared to be full of books. Glancing furtively over my shoulder (was it a trap for book nerds, enticingly placed but dangerous to approach!?), I peered into the glass windows. Books crowded against the walls of the tiny structure. A small piece of paper pressing against the windows read: Welcome to the Little Free Library – Take a book, leave a book!
What I had come across on my wanderings was a genius idea originally started by Todd Bul of Hudson, Wisconsin in honour of his book-loving mother (Wikipedia article). Since this humble start in 2009, the Little Free Library (LFL) movement has become a prolific social enterprise – by January 2014, the total number of registered LFL’s was at 15,000 (History, 2012). The dual mission of the LFL is to: 1) promote literacy and a love of reading; and, 2) to build a sense of community within neighbourhoods (History, 2012). Easily surpassing the 2,510 libraries built by Andrew Carnegie, the movement seems to be well on its way towards this goal (Portland, Oregon, book lovers seem to be thriving under the influence of the program).
If you are interested in setting up your own LFL on your property, they sell for $250 to $500 on the official website (you can also make your own and register for the program here). You can view the map of all LFL’s on the official website here. I am pleased to say that I got rid of the book I was less excited about for one that I’m really enjoying!