In 2009, Tod Bol built the first Little Free Library in Hudson, Wisconsin. It was a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved to read. The idea of community book exchanges with a “take a book, leave a book” philosophy spread fast. As of July 2014, 18,000 Little Free Libraries reached across every state and 70 countries around the world.
“Stewards” are the individual owners of Little Free Libraries. Ideally, stewards build the libraries from repurposed materials. Designs have ranged from log cabins to barns to bird houses. The website also has ready-made kits for sale.
Little Free Libraries help connect book lovers across a community. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) noted that this social phenomenon crosses generations, sparking connections between younger and older readers. Sometimes Little Free Libraries go where public libraries are not. The Books Around the Block program serves communities that don't have good access to books.
You can tell a lot about the neighborhood (or at least about the steward) by scanning a Little Free Library’s collection. The selection in our community’s Little Free Library varies from day to day. A few weeks ago, nonfiction dominated, while this morning, I found an eclectic mix of mysteries and science fiction. When I leave a book, I wonder who will read it. It's like putting a note in a bottle and throwing it out to sea for the next reader.