Oct 3 2012 10:30am

Spreading the Word About the Mini Free Library

Behold the mini free library. In response to the closings and cutbacks imposed on libraries in recent years, a “Little Free Library” movement has formed to fill the gap and make certain that people are still able to enjoy and share books free of cost. The movement was begun in 2009 in Wisconsin by Todd Bol and Rick Brooks, and it has since grown into a remarkable and truly uplifting movement. They encourage others to follow their example and make their own miniature free libraries.

The idea of the miniature free library has since grown internationally. In Canada, Adam Smith of Ontario has constructed the mini free library pictured above in response to the closing of the local library in his town of Milton. “A town named ‘Milton’ without books?” I hear you say. “Unthinkable!” And clearly Mr. Smith agrees wholeheartedly. He has even gone so far as to construct additional mini free libraries for others to use.

The basic idea is to make sharing books easy. Books go in, they come out, sometimes they come back while other times they’re simply replaced with another book. But there is one basic principle: if you take something, return something to replace it. If only that idea were more widespread these days.

And so, I think we can all agree that whether a “little free library” or a “mini free library,” this is an idea that everyone can get behind.

G. D. Falksen is the author of the Hellfire Chronicles and the forthcoming Ouroboros Cycle. He likes books. A lot. In case you couldn’t tell.

Philip Gonzales
1. BatmanJesus
These are popping up everywhere in Minneapolis. We have several within a few bocks of our home. The cost starts at around $600, but you're encouraged to involve your block/blocks which brings the cost down considerably.
Fraser Alexander
2. Fraser Alexander
I so dearly want to see one of these crop up around my local area here in the UK. Considering our own recent spat of library closures, this movement would be most welcome.
Fraser Alexander
3. BearMountainBooks
There is one near Austin!

It's in a great location--the house doing it backs to a cute little park. I've visited. They did a wonderful job with the little box.

That's the facebook page with the address for it if you live in or around Austin, Texas!
Ken Walton
4. carandol
Having seen some of these bookshare schemes in action in various shared houses, communities, communes and pubs in England and Germany, I've noticed one problem. People tend to keep the books that they enjoy and donate books they don't enjoy - after a few years of this, you can easily end up with a collection of books that no-one wants! Regular culling of the dross is definitely a necessity if you don't want your library to resemble the bargain bin of a charity shop... :-)
David Lev
5. davidlev
I'm pretty sure here in Portland there's one of those things shaped like a Tardis. I really need to track it down one of these days
Birgit F
6. birgit is a similar idea. Someone leaves a book in a public place and puts the place where the book is on the website. Someone else takes the book, reads it, then puts it in some public place again and puts the new location on the website. That way one can track the voyage of the book on the website. A note in the book explains the system to the finder.
Fraser Alexander
7. AdamSmith2020
BatmanJesus, where does that $600 figure come from?? It's ridiculous. I built this one for well under a hundred bucks and seeded it with a few books from my personal library. Users have filled it to overflowing with new books. I built another eight to distribute to firends in different cities at a cost of about $50 a piece.
Fraser Alexander
8. Ivrinel
Just to be clear, the town of Milton still has two public library branches.

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