Editorial: Support Little Free Libraries

Published 9:25 am Friday, July 29, 2016


Little Free Libraries have been popping up more and more in the area, and on Monday there will be one more.

A Little Free Library is a small book collection where anyone can borrow a book to read, with no time limits and no late fees. Little Free Libraries aim to promote literacy and a love of reading by building free book exchanges. A structure is put together to house the books, and people are welcome to exchange a book for one of the others inside the library.

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The Albert Lea Tribune has put together its own Little Free Library, and will have a grand opening for the library from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday at the Tribune, 808 W. Front St. Along with unveiling the library and all of the great books inside of it — with some for all ages — there will also be a book swap, freezies, crafts, story time and prizes.

According to littlefreelibrary.org, the libraries’ intended purpose are “to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.”

The start of Little Free Library speaks for itself.

In 2009, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one-room schoolhouse. It was a tribute to his mother, who was a teacher who loved to read. Bol filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it, so he built several more and gave them away. Rick Brooks of University of Wisconsin-Madison saw Bol’s project while discussing potential social enterprises. Together, the pair saw opportunities to achieve a variety of goals for the common good. They were inspired by many different ideas:

• Andrew Carnegie’s support of 2,509 free public libraries around the turn of the 19th to 20th century.

• The heroic achievements of Miss Lutie Stearns, a librarian who brought books to nearly 1,400 locations in Wisconsin through “traveling little libraries” between 1895 and 1914.

• “Take a book, leave a book” collections in coffee shops and public spaces.

• Neighborhood kiosks, TimeBanking and community gift-sharing networks.

• Grassroots empowerment movements in Sri Lanka, India and other countries worldwide.

Today, the site says there are now nearly 40,000 Little Free Library book exchanges around the world, bringing curbside literacy home and sharing millions of books annually.

As more Little Free Libraries pop up around Albert Lea and the surrounding area, look to the Tribune as it puts together a map of all the libraries available for future publication.