The Story of the Little Free Library

It's been one whole year since my parents' Little Free Library was installed in their front yard, which calls for celebration (a.k.a. a blog post)! This library has shared countless books in the past year, and has been such a sweet addition to my parents' neighborhood.

Because we're big fans of little libraries in general, I wanted to share some history behind them and how we came to make one for my parents two Christmases ago. 

My mom has always loved the Little Free Libraries around town. My parents are both huge readers, and instilled a love of reading in all three of their kids. In the back of my mind, I'd always thought they'd enjoy having one of their own to tend to, considering their own love for books and community. 

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Making the Library

Two Christmases ago, I remembered this idea around the 21st of December and knew we had to make it happen. I thankfully married a very handy man who does well with last minute (and admittedly massive) projects. He purchased the materials, and got to work with a free template that I found here. (You can also purchase kits at Little Free Library's website if you're not as handy!) I love the little libraries that look like miniature versions of their owner's house, so I mimicked that with the paint and stain choices. It's kind of a vintage farmhouse vibe, which is right up my mom's alley. We also bypassed normal roof shingles, and used sheet metal that's supposed to rust over time.

We had so much fun surprising my parents with this! B was so tiny then, and we had to hide it in their garage because it was too big to wrap. We also gave them this book to unwrap first - a "must" for any library lovers! 

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My parents had a stand built for the library, added a dog treat tin, and waited for spring! We had a little ribbon cutting ceremony for it, and yes there were cookies. It's been a hoppin' spot ever since!

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The History of Little Free Libraries

So I didn't know much about these little libraries until we started building one. I immediately thought of all the things that could go wrong (total optimist over here), and wanted to make sure we weren't gifting my parents with a massive amount of work and or trouble. So I started Googling! And what I learned was surprising. 

First of all, there are over 65,000 registered Little Free Library book-sharing boxes in more than 80 countries worldwide. That doesn't include other Little Free Library inspired boxes that share food and other resources to those in need. And it's a total "on your honor" system, which is why I was worried at first. But people who know about these libraries are total book lovers, and they respect the system by returning books and even sharing from their own personal collections. There's zero expectation from the library owners on people returning books. The idea is to circulate books - if you take a book from one library, you're more than welcome to return it at another. 

This is why a lot of the Little Free Libraries you see have names or themes associated with them. I also created a stamp for my parents' library when they named it, so they could mark each book to show where it came from. After it was "opened" officially, they registered it with the Little Free Library organization and received a welcome kit that came with an official charter sign and charter number.

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One Year Later

The library has had many visitors, shared countless books, and been a source of joy for the neighborhood. It even has treats for dogs walking by! Many of the neighbors have contributed treats and books for others to enjoy. And my parents have made it their mission to visit every registered Little Free Library in Wichita since opening their own! 

If you're looking to visit some in your area this summer, check out the official map of registered Little Free Libraries here. Want to donate books? Just drop them by at any Little Free Library near you! Happy reading!