What started as one man’s tribute to his late mother is now an international movement rooted in the free exchange of literature. With more than 100,000 locations in 108 countries, Little Free Libraries have promoted book sharing across the world since the first bookcase was built in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009.
After Todd Bol’s mother, a book lover and former school teacher, passed away, he decided to honor her educational legacy by building a wooden bookcase on his front lawn. He designed it to look like a one-room schoolhouse and filled it with books for passersby to take and return at their own leisure. He shared the concept with his partner Rick, and they began building Little Free Libraries across the Midwest.
Soon, the idea took off and Little Free Libraries started popping up in locations all over the U.S. and in other countries soon after. The Little Free Library featured above was built in 2017, and is located in a community garden in Mableton, Georgia. Little Free Libraries aim to inspire a love of reading and spark creativity within communities.
Bol sadly passed away in 2018, but not before meeting a goal he had set for his book exchange. He hoped to surpass the number of libraries founded by U.S. steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie, which was an impressive 2,509. By 2012, there were 50,000 Little Free Libraries registered across the world.
Today, the Little Free Library is an official non-profit organization that promotes literacy and community service. The organization continues to rely on volunteers to construct, install and maintain the book exchange boxes, and registers each one with an official sign and charter number.