Heather’s Little Free Library

https://littlefreelibrary.org/shop/library/scandinavian_cottage/ Image used with permission from Little Free Library
Scandinavian Cottage
Image used with permission from Little Free Library

At a recent ACFW Minnesota Chapter (MN NICE) meeting, one member, Heather Edwards, enthralled the group talking about her Little Free Library journey. (If you’re not familiar with Little Free Library, check out their website: https://littlefreelibrary.org/). Heather convinced me that I need a Little Free Library in my front yard. That will happen this summer, assuming our snow ever melts!

So, let me introduce you to Heather. She’s been working for Lillie Surburban Newspapers (LillieNews.com) as a journalist and columnist since 1997. She studied theatre and English at Winona State University, is active in community theatre, and is finishing up her first book. She enjoys volunteering with children and animals, and she’s a super-fun and caring person!

Heather’s Free Little Library
by Heather Edwards

It’s a warm day in the middle of summer, and I am spying on the people sitting outside my window.

Little Free Library in Medford, OR
Little Free Library in Medford, OR
Image used with permission from Little Free Library

When they have finished reading, they can return the book to the little library, or they can take it home. On their next visit, they can return the book or keep it and perhaps bring another book for someone else to enjoy.

That’s the idea behind the Little Free Library, a free book exchange program that has been sweeping the nation- and the world- in the past five years. The libraries–most of which are a little “bigger than a breadbox”–typically sit on posts where they are easily accessed by readers. The rules of using the little libraries are simple: “Take a book. Leave a book.”

In 2009, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisc. built his first little library as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher and avid reader. He filled his library with books and put it on a post in his front yard. It became a regular stop for many of his neighbors.

Who wouldn't want one of these in their front yard?! Tardis Little Free Library Bloomington, MN
Who wouldn’t want one of these in their front yard?!
Tardis Little Free Library
Bloomington, MN
Image used with permission from Little Free Library

The idea of little free libraries spread rapidly through word of mouth and media attention. According to the Little Free Library Web site (littlefreelibrary.org), in January 2014, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries throughout the world was between 10,000 and 12,000, with many more being erected every day. Little Free Libraries was established as a non-profit organization in 2012.

Those who want to be a steward for their own little free library can either purchase a library-making kit or create one of their own. Building plans are available on the organization’s Web site.

My husband purchased ours through the Web site. He settled the library on the corner outside our home, adding solar lighting (for our nighttime readers), paving stones and the little stone bench.

Since then we have had a variety of library visitors, and quite a few regulars. There’s our neighbor who pauses at our library when he is walking his dog in the early morning. They sit in the early light of dawn, reading passages from the Bible I keep in the library.

There’s the lady who stops by every week, swaps a book with one of her own and leaves a nice message in our guest book.

There’s the chattering, excited school kids who walk by my house on their way to the nearby playground. When I know they’re coming, I make sure the library is brimming with children’s books. They nearly clean me out as they walk by; I’ve assured their teachers that I am thrilled with this.

As a writer and a former school librarian and a proud bibliophile, I love sharing books.

Since the bookshelves in my home are forever cramped to the point of overflowing, I always have plenty of material to keep the library stocked.

And every once in a while, I glance out my front window and catch people enjoying my library. They look happy. They look as if they’ve been blessed by a stranger’s kindness.

You can’t put a price on that. Just like you can’t measure the worth of free books.

If you are interested in having your own little free library, or you’d simply like to visit the little free libraries in your town, log on to www.littlefreelibrary.org.

Little Free Library in Hader, NE Published with permission from https://www.unsungneighbors.com/library.htm. Special thanks to Mary Conneally for the image and the link!
Little Free Library in Hader, NE
Published with permission from UnsungNeighbors.com.
Special thanks to Mary Connealy for the image and the link!

Do you have a Little Free Library? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Note: The pictures in this post aren’t of Heather’s Little Free Library because it’s currently buried beneath the mountains of snow dropped on Minnesota. 🙂 Thank you to Little Free Library for giving permission to use images from their website!

Want to know more about Little Free Library?

Comments 14

  1. I want to start a library!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I live on a road with NO TRAFFIC a zillion miles out in the country. I think I’d be wasting my time. But I love this!!!! Maybe someday. Maybe I won’t always live here.

      1. LOVE! I have seen this before and want to do it so bad. I would put at the edge of the parking lot at our church and the bench is a WONDERFUL touch.

        I’m already in the process of turning an unused Sunday School room into a church library. We have shelves and over 400 books waiting to be shelved. Just no time to actually go do the shelving. Teenage pizza party one night? Now that’s an idea! 🙂

        And Mary, your friend’s library is adorable!

        1. Love the idea of putting one by your church. What a great ministry that would be!

          As for those shelves, a pizza party sounds like the perfect idea. Teenagers (and most adults) will do anything for pizza!

    1. Charlotte Endorf, who’s little library that is in the row or birdhouse-like boxes, writes books about Orphan Trains. So interesting. She found a lot of the orphans here in Nebraska and went around and interviewed them. Of course there are fewer everyday because they are getting older. So it was cool she did that before there were none left to interview.
      And I wrote a book with Orphan Trains connections, Gingham Mountain, and used her books for research.
      And in talking with her about that she mentioned in passing her little free library. She lives in a tiny town and this is the town’s ONLY library.
      So when Brenda mentioned this, my mind, in a rare moment of clarity!!! remembered Charlotte.

    2. I think every reader / author should have one, don’t you! And I love how creative people are with them. My husband wants to put up a Minion (Despicable Me) Little Free Library. Now to figure out how to do it …

  2. Brenda,
    We get calls and emails every day from writers and journalists, and we learn to accept their stories as part of the rewards of this work. Your post is so wonderful, I’m hoping you won’t mind if we share it on our Little Free Library Facebook page. Now that we are about to reach 41,000 fans, we think they deserve the best…and your piece is an excellent model for others. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Rick,

      Thank you for the kind comments about the post. It’s a joy to spread the word about such worthwhile organizations & projects. I give all credit to Heather Edwards, my guest blogger, who introduced me to Little Free Library. We both would love for you to share it on your Facebook page! Thank you!


  3. How inspiring! I really enjoyed this guest blog and the pictures of the little free libraries. I too would love to do this. It helps to see the pictures. Thanks so much for sharing this post. Now if the snow and cold would just leave so we could get to work.

  4. Hmm. Like Mary, I live way out in the country, but I do get joggers and walkers in summer. (Not now. Too much snow!!!) I love the idea. I saw one in a red British phone booth in Croatia last fall. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read Croatian.

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