Little Free Libraries


Little Free Libraries Popping Up In Ohio

Traveling around Ohio, I run into the darndest things sometimes.

On a trip along the North Coast, I cruised old familiar streets and saw something I had never seen before. I pulled to the side of Lakewood Drive at the corner of Overlook Road in Avon Lake, Ohio and walked up to a little wooden box with glass front standing on a post. The sign said, “Little Free Library.” Inside was a collection of books urging anyone to “take a book, return a book.”

Anyone can share a book or checkout a book to read. The concept is to promote literacy, especially in neighborhoods where people cannot easily get to the public library. Let’s face it, in today’s day and age, many people are now reading books digitally. Affluent communities are likely to have digital libraries of their own and shelves of printed books they plan to donate while other communities wish they had better access to more books.

The first Little Free Library was created in 2009 by Todd Bol. He built a miniature schoolhouse for his mom – a former teacher and avid reader – living in Wisconsin. He placed it atop a post in her front yard and packed it with books. It advertised, “Free Books.”

And a movement was born.

Since then, “little free libraries” have taken the world by storm. They are found in the Americas, Asia, Africa, Australia and elsewhere. The artwork and craftsmanship that goes into each unique little library is worthy of its own picture book.

This novel idea is opening the world of literacy in hard-to-reach places and therefore opens incredible opportunities for kids that may have not otherwise come to love the stories so many of us cherish. However, as you may imagine, these beautiful boxes sometimes become targets of vandals. Fortunately, the heart behind the construction of each Free Little Library has the love and determination to outlast and perhaps even win over such ill-guided kids.

Nancy and Richard Kamps built and rebuilt the Little Free Library that caught my attention in Avon Lake. After there’s was vandalized the first time, the policeman that came to take the report ended up coming back and donating books to get it going again.

It’s easy to get started if you want to create a Little Free Library legally and safely. to learn how you may open horizons for those who may be less fortunate than you.

By Frank R. Satullo, The OhioTraveler