People Are Building Little Free Libraries—and They’re Popping Up Everywhere

There are more than 60,000 of these miniature book exchanges, and counting!

Book hoarding: this hobby has become so common that there’s even a word for it in Japanese. If you have a habit of stocking up on superfluous reading material, one option is to switch to audiobooks. Another is to just embrace it. Our favorite option, however, is to join a really cool movement that’s been taking off lately by contributing to, or even building, a Little Free Library.

All over the United States and the world, book lovers are building miniature houses, filling them with books, and placing them around their neighborhoods. Anyone who passes by is encouraged to “take a book or leave a book.” (Or both!)

libraryCourtesy Gary Wentz

The Little Free Library trend started in 2009, when a man named Todd H. Bol built the first one. He then started the Little Free Library nonprofit organization in hopes of spreading the joy of reading and making books accessible to as many people as possible. Now, people everywhere are jumping on this bookish bandwagon. Some are stumbling upon the libraries and picking up new reading material, no library card required. Or they’re leaving a book of their own that they’ve finished with, for someone else to enjoy.

Others are building the creations themselves—and they aren’t afraid to get creative. For instance, this colorful library in Cranford, NJ has been decked out for Halloween:

This one, situated in front of a church, boasts its own cool stained glass design.

churchCourtesy Gary Wentz

Finding a Little Free Library near you couldn’t be easier. The nonprofit’s website has a map where you can search your city or Zip code and find any nearby libraries. According to the website, there are more than 60,000 Little Free Libraries currently open for business.

Want to add to that number? You can purchase a pre-made library on their website, or you can try your hand at building your own—it’s surprisingly easy! Don’t believe us? Check out this easy step-by-step guide. People who build the libraries are encouraged to register them, so that they’ll show up on the map and get more visitors.

Learn more about Little Free Libraries, and how to build them, on their website.


Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.