I spotted this wooden mini bookshelf at the concierge of Glorietta Mall, Makati. Reminiscent of The Book Stop Project, the bookshelf had old books and a sign that said, “Little Free Library: Take a Book, Read a Book.”
A little sleuthing led me to LittleFreeLibrary.org, a movement that began in Wisconsin back in 2009. Todd Bol built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a teacher and lover of books. He filled it with books and placed it on a post in his front yard.
Neighbors and friends loved the idea of sharing books through this prototype, and soon Todd created more models for coffee shops and other public spaces. More people became interested in the movement and began creating their own models. Fast forward to June 2016 and there are 40,000 registered Little Free Libraries in 50 U.S. states and 70+ countries around the world, including the one I spotted in Makati, Philippines.
The prototype has evolved into different sizes and artistic interpretations. While browsing through their official Facebook and Instagram accounts, I saw many clever designs. Many are made of recyclable and sustainable materials. Others are as a big as a shed. I even spotted a Simpsons version designed by Matt Groening himself. From afar, most of the LFLs look like colorful birdhouses, but a closer look reveals that it’s a mini library of books. The guidelines are simple:
1. The library belongs to everybody—neighbors, friends, and people who don’t even realize it yet. Anyone can use the Little Free Library.
2. Take any book you like.
3. Share it. Return it to any Little Free Library or pass it on to a friend.
4. Give books. Leave notes in them if you like.
5. If you’d like to go the extra mile, build your own Little Free Library, register it online, and connect with fellow book stewards around the world.
A refreshing break from all things digital, this movement is a wonderful way to learn, connect, and pay it forward. I’m looking forward to seeing other Little Free Libraries in my future travels.