Good day, everyone! I hope you’ve had a great weekend. Mine has been filled with research related to Banned Books Week, and I thought it would be appropriate to start the week with a project that anyone can do to spread the love of reading. I’m talking about building your own little free libraries.
One of the issues brought up by Banned Books Week is restricted access to reading materials. Many factors can limit access to books: lack of money, lack of public libraries, and, yes, censorship which leads to the removal of books from library shelves. We have to do everything we can to help books, especially challenged/banned books, be more readily available to the public. That’s where projects like the Little Free Library come in.
You may have already heard of the trend. It’s a book lover’s dream, a 24/7 mini-library and DIY project all in one. The concept is all about taking a book, leaving a book, and building a community. There’s more to it, though.
The project traces back to an international, nonprofit organization called Little Free Library. They provide instructions and sell materials for creating little free libraries, register the libraries so that the “stewards” (as they call the keepers of the little free libraries) can access a support network, and even provide a world map of registered little libraries.
You don’t need to use the kits sold by Little Free Library. You can build one from any material you can get your hands on, so long as you make sure they’re secure and can withstand the elements. Also, make sure that you have permission to put your library where you want to put it, don’t block any pathways, and make sure to maintain it. You don’t even need to make them out of wood. People have made little free libraries out of old mailboxes, mini-fridges, and microwaves.
To register with the Little Free Library, you’ll have to pay $45, which is included in the price if you buy one of their kits. (A steward’s packet with advice and tips is also included.) There are many benefits to registering, such as becoming a part of the international steward network, getting an official charter sign, and being able to put your library on the world map so that readers in your area can find it.
However, you don’t have to register. After all, who can tell you not to put a little free library on your own property? You just won’t have a charter number or a sign and you’ll have to get the word out some other way. (If you don’t register, be careful about calling it a “little free library” for copyright reasons.)
There are a lot more details, ideas, and advice provided on the Little Free Library website, so I suggest going there before committing to any strategy for constructing libraries. You can also donate to the organization and find little free libraries near you. There are thousands of them; some have even been put up in small cities near me (not my actual town, not yet). Our county is rural and not very populated, so they really are everywhere in the United States.
Do you have a little free library? Seen any in your area? Tell us about them and post some pictures in the comments below! I’d love to get some ideas for my own little free library. Also feel free to share other ideas you have for increasing access to books, as well as any other banned books topics you wish to discuss.