This month the Roses of Prose are sharing the love, and what could be more appropriate than sharing the love of reading? After all, that’s what has brought us together. I want to tell you about an organization formed up in my neck of the woods to do just that.
Little Free Library is a non-profit founded in Wisconsin in 2009 and dedicated to sharing the love of reading and fostering community. The concept is simple: any interested person constructs a small box, similar to a large birdhouse, and mounts it on a post in front of their house near the street—or any other easily accessible place on private property. They fill the box with books that are free for the borrowing to anyone who happens by. Neighbors can take a book, read it, and return it then donate a book or two of their own. If the supply dwindles, the community (in the city this may be only a block or two) donates additional books. One of the houses in my neighborhood has one in the parkway, and I have never seen it empty.
In its first three years, the movement has absolutely exploded. The organization estimates that 1,650,000 books have been donated and borrowed during that time. There are now 5,000 to 6,000 Little Free Libraries in 36 countries. In 2012, they received a $70,000 grant from AARP to address the need for connections for socially isolated and vulnerable adults over 50.