By ADEDAYO PERKOVICH, age 9

The first Little Free Library created by Todd Bol in Wisconsin. PHOTO: Lisa Colon DeLay
The first Little Free Library created by Todd Bol in Wisconsin. PHOTO: Lisa Colon DeLay

As public libraries disappear because of defunding, Little Free Libraries are thriving. In 2010, Todd Bol started this community book-sharing program in Wisconsin. To honor his schoolteacher mother, he built a small box in the shape of a one-room schoolhouse and filled it with books. His motto, “Take a book, leave a book,” spread all over the world; in only two years Little Free Libraries became a global movement.

A Little Free Library in Wisconsin. PHOTO: Ali Eminov
A Little Free Library in Wisconsin. PHOTO: Ali Eminov

There are now 2,510 Little Free Libraries worldwide, including ones in Afghanistan, Australia and Ghana. But you don’t have to look that far to find one. These little boxes can be found on the side of the road, on college campuses, beside bike paths and in the front yards of private homes. To keep costs down, they are usually made from recycled materials such as canoes, phone booths or beehives.

Materials are also available to order on the organization’s website. Suzanne Pettypiece of Brooklyn, NY pooled money with her neighbors to purchase the supplies to build their own library in front of their co-op apartment building. When they came up short on cash, Todd Bol still sent them supplies to thank them for being the first Little Free Library in New York City. “The best thing is seeing children headed home on their scooters from the local school that’s a block away to pick something out,” says Pettypiece.

The first Little Free Library in New York City, installed by Suzanne Pettypiece and her neighbors in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. PHOTO: Kathryn Schlechter
The first Little Free Library in New York City, installed by Suzanne Pettypiece and her neighbors in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. PHOTO: Kathryn Schlechter

Brooklyn New School librarian Susan Westover saw some of these literary creations in Ithaca, NY. She commented, “I think these libraries are important because, well, there is this sense of sharing and I think it’s really amazing how you can just be sharing something with people you don’t even know.”

The founder’s mission was to share literacy with communities throughout the world, and it looks like he has achieved his goal. Pettypiece added, “I often find handwritten notes that say things like, ‘thanks for making our community stronger.’”