A man in Wisconsin didn’t know he was starting a worldwide trend when he built a little replica of a schoolhouse and put it in his front yard to honor his mother. He put some books in it and a sign on it that said, “Free books.”
His neighbors and friends loved it and asked him to build book boxes for their yard. Seven years after that first library went up, there are now over 36,000 Little Free Library book boxes in all 50 states and in over 70 countries around the world.
Founder Tony Bol, Hudson, Wisc., said, “A Little Free Library in someone’s front yard is first met with curiosity, then you learn someone is sharing books with no obligation, and then you enjoy the surprise of a book that strikes your fancy. The Libraries are often playful, often colorful and always inviting.”
Sioux Falls has many Little Free Libraries popping up all over town. There are at least 14 on the map at www.littlefreelibrary.org and many others just aren’t listed yet.
Amber Bruns, Sioux Falls, put one up in her front yard. “My oldest daughter, Tenlee, who is 6, reads so much we can’t keep up,” she said. “I wanted to continue to foster her love for reading. I had heard of the Little Free Library and showed her a picture of one and asked if she wanted to do one. She enthusiastically agreed.”
Tenlee and her dad, Chris, were the architects and interior designers, Amber said. “All of us in the family contributed books from our own collections.”
Now people stop by on a regular basis to exchange books. It’s not just locals, though. Because the non-profit Little Free Library Ltd. lists library locations, travelers from all over can seek and find the small libraries when they visit other places.
Denise Blomberg, Sioux Falls, was visiting Door County, Wisconsin, when she ran across her first Little Free Library. She was hooked. “I spent one evening driving to all of them in Door County,” she said. “It was almost like geocaching – it was just fun.”
She travels extensively for work and now she carries books in a tote bag in her car so she can share them with the little libraries as she finds them. “I love the way that book lovers share their love with the community.”
Article by Thea Miller Ryan. First published in Sioux Falls Woman Magazine. Reprinted with permission.