Little Free Libraries
by Barbara Renner
Take a book. Leave a book. That’s the basic concept of the Little Free Library (LFL), a free book exchange housed in a small wooden box where anyone may take a book to read or leave a book to share. There are more than 50,000 Little Free Libraries all over the world, making it easy for readers of all backgrounds and ages to access books.
Todd Bol is the founder of the Little Free Library concept. In Hudson, Wisconsin, Todd built a small box and filled it with books free-for-the-taking as a memorial to his mother, a former teacher who loved books. Little Free Library has since become a registered nonprofit organization supported by the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, the American Library Association, Habitat for Humanity, and Penguin Random House, to name a few. Even Whoopi Goldberg named the LFLs in November 2016 as one of her favorite things.
So why should authors be excited about Little Free Libraries? For one thing, by placing their books in a little neighborhood box, they are inviting people to read their books. It’s great advertising and puts their books in the hands of someone who could become a regular customer. If their website is listed on the book covers, there are possibilities for future sales. For another, their names are exposed to many men, women, and children as they thumb through the box looking for a good book to read. Finally, offering books for free in communities that may not have libraries or bookstores nearby fosters literacy and a love of reading by providing 24/7 access to books.
I first learned about Little Free Libraries when I read an article in a neighborhood newspaper describing two new LFL boxes within a mile of my home. After placing three of my picture books in one, I received an email from the mother of a little girl who loved my books. We met for tea, and I discovered she was a strategic communicator in marketing and advertising for a large Phoenix company. She provided me with a lot of resources for marketing and selling my books.
A map is available on the LFL’s website listing locations of registered boxes. Anyone can build an LFL, but it’s important to register it to receive an official charter sign and number, be added to the map, and become an official Steward of the LFL box. There is a one-time payment of $40 to register a Little Free Library.
There are eleven LFL boxes in the Coronado Neighborhood in downtown Phoenix.
Founder, Todd Bol, will be speaking at The Coronado restaurant, 2201 North 7th Street, on Wednesday, April 26 from 5 – 7 p.m. To hear Todd describe his experience creating the Little Free Library and share what’s new with the Little Free Library organization, you can RSVP at swhd.org/ToddBol or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Todd is traveling across the United States to spread the word about his free book exchange housed in a small wooden box. He’s headed to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books April 22-23 and will be in booth 138.
Barbara Renner and her husband have lived in Phoenix for more than 40 years. As “Sun Birds,” they fly away to Minnesota to escape the summer heat – and to fish. While in Minnesota, Barbara became fascinated with its state bird, the Common Loon, and was prompted to write four picture books about Lonnie the Loon, because everyone should know about loons. However, books about loons don’t sell very well in the desert, so she is writing a new series of picture books about Quincy the Quail. Barbara visits elementary schools as a guest author to read her books and share interesting facts about loons and quails. She’s working on other children’s books and a special book about her yellow lab, Larry: Larry’s Words of Wisdom. Learn more about Barbara at RennerWrites.com, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads.