Thursday Doors on Friday: Little Free Library

I am again taking a slightly different approach to the Thursday Doors theme. For one thing, it’s not Thursday . . . but these are still doors. They just aren’t doors that humans can literally walk through. They are doors to the imagination: doors to books!

Little Free Libraries (LfL) started with a Wisconsin man in 2009. According to their website, their mission is:

To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.

There are now over 40,000 of them worldwide, and they’ve had a Twitter account since 2011.

I vaguely knew about them when I lived in the Boston area, but I can’t remember if I’d ever seen one. I certainly didn’t know about any close by. Then I moved to California.

My first weekend here, I went to the UU Church of Palo Alto, and I saw the LfL pictured above. I posted it on Facebook with the caption, “Gotta love a church with a Little Free Library.” That church lives its love of literacy in other ways too, with reading groups and a thriving bookstore.

And if I look around just a little bit, I find that they’re all over the place. There are 5 registered in the Mountain View zip code alone. And every now and then, an LfL has a geocache too. I think that geocaching and Little Free Libraries are kind of spiritual cousins. They’re both free, shared community activities where enthusiasts leave objects for others to find, to return, to exchange, and enjoy. I left a few copies of Geocaching GPS in some local LfL earlier this year. You can even track their journeys like geocaching trackables using

I recently read an absurd and anger-inducing article about some neighborhood busybodies who want to get rid of LfL by making people apply for permits and threatening them with fines. (I’m not angry about the article itself–it has useful information and history–but about the trend it describes)

Some day, I hope soon, I am planning to put up an LfL with a geocache and a supply of geocaching-themed books, as well as others. Until then, I will keep visiting the others in the area.



12 thoughts on “Thursday Doors on Friday: Little Free Library”

  1. These free little libraries are popping up all over the place where I live in Lancaster, Karen. I went around to the ones downtown and put a signed copy of “Six Sisters” in each. About a month later, my friend and I were having lunch and she brought a copy of “Six Sisters” along for me to sign and while she was waiting for me to arrive, the waitress said, “Oh, I”m reading that book right now.” I’m pretty sure that she got it from the FLL because all the marketing I was doing was pretty much homegrown, FB, word of mouth, etc. Maybe you should spread a couple copies of “Geocaching GPS” around town!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just came across one of these little libraries here in Coupeville, Washington. Great concept…and those little doors are indeed a great gateway to something much larger.

    There’s much in your comment “They’re both free, shared community activities where enthusiasts leave objects for others to find, to return, to exchange, and enjoy.” Most of all it points to a sense of a community within a particular geographical area is not a given (as those who oppose these little libraries attest to), but rather must be nurtured and facilitated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s a modern problem, but an important one that a lot of us who grew up before online communities were a thing may not have expected. Nowadays it’s more of a given that communities form on the basis of choice and shared interests than geography. It’s very important to nurture them regardless. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve seen pictures of so many different kinds, yet I’ve never seen on around here. Been in a couple restaurants, however, that have bookshelves for doing the same thing. And I understand they’re quite popular in Britain.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. We have one of these at our favorite hiking spot. We dropped off several books last time, and may soon borrow one. There’s a sign requesting kids books especially, but, man! Li’l D does not want to part with even books he hasn’t touched for years.

    The thought folks would favor their aesthetic preferences over increased access to literacy is … argh.

    Liked by 2 people

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