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In a world where technology garners outsized attention for its rapid advancements and impact on virtually every area of life, a steadily growing movement is fostering a love of reading by providing books to those who need them. Little Free Libraries, tucked like hidden treasures in more than 180,000 locations across the globe, are book-sharing boxes open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, effectively removing barriers to book access.

The first Little Free Library was created in Hudson, Wisconsin by Todd Bol. He constructed a small model of a one-room schoolhouse and filled it with books to honor his mother. What happened next was, in the words of Margret Aldrich, Communications Director of the Little Free Library nonprofit organization, 'a little bit of magic.' Neighbors stopped and conversed; some took books, others donated books, and the idea took root. Eventually, Bol and Rick Brooks from the University of Wisconsin-Madison saw the potential of the concept and began generously giving away Little Free Libraries.

Today, the organization provides guidance, support, and resources to individuals interested in starting and maintaining Little Free Libraries—referred to as 'stewards.' Stewards play a vital role in overseeing the planning and installation of Little Free Libraries, maintaining the structures, soliciting book donations, and spreading the word. The organization offers a mobile app for stewards to register their Little Free Libraries, ensuring they appear on the organization’s map.

This initiative helps foster literacy and inclusive reading in a variety of ways, says Aldrich. In addition to assisting stewards in establishing new libraries, the organization has set up a volunteer network to support its mission. Moreover, it grants new Little Free Libraries to high-need areas and actively promotes diversity by offering books that represent people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other diverse voices.

If you're considering starting your own Little Free Library, the organization has a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Scout out the right location. Ensure that you can legally and safely install the Little Free Library. The organization recommends a location with a lot of foot traffic and visibility.
  • Find a committed steward and recruit volunteers to help maintain the library. Ensure a steady flow of book donations to replace the books enjoyed by others.
  • Download the full guide to starting your own Little Free Library and understand what's involved.

Starting a Little Free Library is just one way to promote literacy, reading, and book access in your community. For more ideas, visit