Take a Book, Return a Book


Seattle’s drippy winter weather and gray days encourage the populace to cuddle up with a book (or reading device) and read. And we Seattleites like to read. Our city consistently makes the short lists of Most Read Cities, Most Literate Cities, etc. We have a top-notch public library system and numerous book stores to feed our reading habit. Many of my friends belong to book clubs. Book Lust author and former librarian Nancy Pearl makes her home in Seattle.

It should come as no surprise then at the popularity of the Little Free Library in our region.

Little-Free-Library-collageIn 2009, a Wisconsin man built a model one-room schoolhouse, mounted it on a post in his front yard, and filled it with books for friends and neighbors to read and exchange. He did this as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher. The concept caught on and Little Free Library was born. Today, an estimated 36,000 library boxes are registered globally and 200+ are in Seattle.

I love how this movement has grown organically and revel in the random discovery of boxes, especially those in my neighborhood. Beyond the fact that I like to read, Little Free Libraries appeal to me for these reasons:

  • Each Little Free Library is unique. These boxes are often creative works of art, crafted and displayed with care. Reading material is diverse as well. I have found mysteries, romances, biographies, DIY, poetry, children’s literature, and more in the libraries.
  • They are used! I regularly make the rounds of the libraries near me to find new reading material and I’m not disappointed. I also make it a point to return books that I’ve borrowed or add new ones of my own.
  • Little Free Libraries build community. Most people erect their libraries in front of their house and many encourage you to linger for awhile by providing a bench to sit, or nibbles and a water bowl for your pet. I have encountered other neighbors while browsing books at a box, and I have had the opportunity to thank a couple of the little library sponsors.
  • You get outside when you use a Little Free Library. Most visitors discover their neighborhood box while walking or biking and it’s easy to stop and check it out.

I encourage you to take walks or bike rides around your neighborhood and, when you spy a Little Free Library, stop and take a book. Visit it again to return a book, and if you meet a neighbor, be sure to say hi.

Visit littlefreelibrary.org to learn more.

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