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The Little Library Movement

August 4, 2015

Book lovers around the world are joining the “Little Library Movement.” While public libraries allow us to share information and stories within our community, “little libraries” create a new sense of wonder and an intimate reading experience in this digital age.

Recently, budget cuts have been threatening our public libraries. Many people mistakenly consider them as “nostalgic institutions” only. Fortunately, e-publications and e-readers have sparked a renewed interest in books (digital and print). People are capitalizing on this fresh energy with a new trend of pop-up libraries.

Micro-libraries encourage reading while updating unappreciated public spaces. These pop-up collections don’t require library cards or charge fees. Generally, there’s only one rule: leave a book to take a book. There’s usually a little librarian of sorts to tend to the collection.

This literary trend prospers because of activists like Wisconsin’s Todd Bol. When his mother, a devoted book lover, passed away, he decided to honor her memory. He set up a dollhouse-sized library on his lawn so he could share books with others, and this was the beginning of Little Free Libraries in 2009. According to the organization, nearly 25,000 Little Free Libraries have been registered around the world.

There are many other examples of micro-libraries. Artist Colin McMullan, a guerrilla librarian, set up Corner Libraries in New York. These little book collections are housed in converted doghouses and filled books as well as graphic novels, zines, and self-published novels and manuscripts.

Other imaginative public book collections include the following:

  1. Bookyard: Rows of bookshelves were set up in a Belgian vineyard for an art festival.
  2. Phone booth librariesWith the rise of cell phones, telephone booths in the U.K. are hardly needed. Now, some of these old phone booths have been converted into mini libraries.
  3. Beach BooksIn Australia, a temporary pop-up library was set up by IKEA on Bondi beach.
  4. Weapons of Mass InstructionIn Argentina, Raul Lemesoff created a vehicle that holds 900 books for a mobile pop-up library.
  5. Park librariesIn Colombia, little libraries are set up throughout the Bogota neighborhood, including a few located in parks.

Would you like to get involved in the little library movement? Consider the tips below:

  • Learn more. For further information, consider reading Design Observer Group’s featured essay about micro-libraries in urban areas.
  • Start your own pop-up library. Consider creating your own pop-up library in your neighborhood. Set up temporary bookshelves, books, and chairs in your front yard. Also, consider handing out coffee and lemonade.
  • Create your own little library. You can build you own little library from an old bird house, or you can get building instructions from Little Free Library.

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