Friday, February 20, 2015

7 Reasons you need a Little Free Library (Plus 3 things to get you started!)

I don't know what it is about books, but I just L O V E them.  I will even admit that I love them (shopping for them, looking at them, holding them, storing them, decorating with them, owning them) even more than I love reading them. So stupid and lazy of me..moving on.

So about a year ago, a mama friend of mine introduced me to what is called a Little Free Library, and you guys....I need to convert EVERYONE!

7 reasons why you need a Little Free Library // Healthy Happy Home

A Little Free Library (or you can really call it whatever you want) is a little, outdoor, open-to-the-public bird house type of tiny-ish, weatherproof building where you put books you are willing to let go of and share with the community.  Then people stop by, and can take any book they want (and keep if they want), and other people (or the same people) BRING books that they are willing to share with the community as well.  So, there is ideally a constant flow of books coming in and going out. Very succinctly, the official tagline of the "official" Little Free Library  is "Take a book, Leave a book."

We built one for our front lawn last spring and you guys, it has been so much fun!!!  So here are my 7 reasons YOU need to start your own Little Free Library, along with some photos to spark some ideas!

1. It is a place you can "donate" books you no longer want -- Spring Cleaning is around the corner!

2. It's a place to share doubles of books that you received as gifts, etc.

(I just love LFL's that are tiny replicas of the home behind it!)

3. It's a place to find new books or maybe even old books you've always wanted to read - and they are free!

4.. It's an awesome neighborhood community builder.  It spreads neighborhood pride, good will, and promotes an atmosphere of community awareness and sharing.  Generosity is a contagious thing...and I want THAT going around my neighborhood.

A few weeks after we had ours up, I met a neighbor and after I explained where I lived she said "Oh! You are the one with the little library!! I posted a picture of it on Facebook and EVERYONE kept commenting on how they wished they had one in their neighborhood!!"

5. It's a cool way to meet people in your neighborhood - especially families with young kids (if you have kids, this is Very Good Information)! Seriously, we have now met almost everyone in our neighborhood because they stop by the little library with their kids (and we spend a good amount of time on our front lawn), or at neighborhood potlucks and things we are always introduced by others as "the ones with the cute little library in their front yard."  People then remember us, stop by to check it out and say hi!

Numerous older couples have even stopped by to make sure to thank us for adding something so nice to the hood. I feel like I have gained so much more than I have put into this!

6. It teaches not only us adults, but our KIDS about sharing, community involvement, and a love for books. I can't wait to take Mia and my future kids on regular library outings, but wouldn't it also be so cool to have a mini library you can stop by within walking distance to your house - or in your front lawn??!!

The answer is yes.  Most days when we head out to the front lawn with some toys and a blanket, Mia wants to go grab a few books from the library, which usually has a a few new ones inside.  How fun is that!?

And when she gets older, she'll learn to understand that the books, even though they are in our front lawn, aren't "our" books but for the community to share.  What a cool teaching tool, right?

7. I have not spoken to anyone who knows anything about property valuation, but in my humble opinion, I honestly think that having a Little Free Library "anywhere" in one's neighborhood ups the property value for the entire hood.

Think about it.  If you are in the market for a house, and two blocks down from a house that is for sale there is a Little Free Library - what does that tell you about the people in that neighborhood?  To me, it says : "we are generous, we are trustworthy, we are community oriented, and you will love living here!"

What could be a better way to Build, Grow, and Show a community spirit than a Little Free Library?!

OK, so now you want one, don't you.  I know you do. Here are a few things to know, and the only 3 things you need to get started!

Good to know: 
--"Little Free Library" is a trademarked name that denotes one such library that is a part of the official LFL Network.  Being a member of this network is a $30 one-time fee, and comes with an official wooden sign you can attach to the library, as well as puts your LFL on a nationwide map.  There are also tips, brochures you can put in the library, a shop you can purchase a library from if you don't want to make your own, and a few other things that help you get started, however...

--You absolutely do not need to be a part of this network to start your own library.  You can call it whatever you want, make your own sign, etc etc.  I personally joined the network to have the sign and be on the map because I wanted to "donate" to the nonprofit that helps promote these, and I thought that was super fun and worth it to me to have the sign and be on the map, but again...absolutely Not Necessary.

--One of the things that the LFL network really stresses is that to have one such Library on your property, the idea of stewardship is really important.  Now, whether or not you join this network, I still think it is worth mentioning.

They emphasize that the owners of the library are really the Steward of the library, taking care of any needed upkeep, maybe keeping it looking nice, filled with books if it gets low, obviously providing the initial materials, etc., but it is not "their" library where others borrow books "from them."  In other words, it is the Neighborhood's Library, and the "owner" has volunteered to take care of it for everyone.

I think this is such a cool concept as well, one that I think casts a super generous and positive spirit over the whole thing, and encourages others to have a little tiny bit of ownership in it as well. Again...promoting that community spirit.

SO - here are the 3 things you need!!

7 reasons why you need a Little Free Library // Healthy Happy Home
Our LFL just after my dad built it, before I painted it.
That's my sister, Little Mia, and my two nieces!

1. A weatherproof, especially waterproof, box.  Most LFL's have a glass door on the front so the books can be seen.  I LOVE looking at the Little Free Library Instagram feed and #littlefreelibrary IG hashtag...especially when I was trying to design ours, but even still - they are so creative and make me so happy to see!

My dad built ours from a bunch of scrap wood, very few pieces he needed to purchase, and a picture frame for the front door!

2. Books! When we first built the library, besides adding a few books I already owned and didn't need anymore, I went down to a local thrift store and bought about $5 worth of books on a 50% off day - which was about 30 books!  I started by filling it with kids books, and now it is about 50-50 kids and adult books.

7 reasons why you need a Little Free Library // Healthy Happy Home

3. A sign that explains how it works.  This is super important, as even still, people ask me to explain how it works.  It just needs to be something that explains - "Please take a book to keep or borrow, and/or leave a book you would like donate" (making sure they understand they may never see this book again).

I have even considered adding a little chalk board paint to the top front of the library to explain a little more, because even the LFL Netowork's sign that says "Take a book, Leave a book" still leaves people not quite sure.  Or maybe it just needs to be in bigger letters...I'm still experimenting.

And that's it!!  This post was *not* sponsored at all....I just really love the idea of the Little Free Library and think that every neighborhood needs one.  :)

Check out the Little Free Library website for more cool photos, ideas and resources!!

And head over to the rest of the 7 Quick Takes Party at This Ain't the Lyceum!!


  1. My mother-in-law has one in the front yard and it has been an amazing thing in her life and in our lives as we're living with them right now.

  2. Hi Kristin,
    I wanted to say "hi" and introduce myself. I'm a big fan of your podcast and look forward when a new episode comes out! I love this post, I didn't realize how easy it was to have your own LFL! I'm definitely going to look into it! Oh and I totally know what you mean by loving books more than you love reading them - I can totally relate!


    1. Hi Deanna!! So glad you like the podcast, and this post! :) It is super easy to have your own LFL - figuring out / building the actual library is probably the hardest part...but that can be totally do-able too depending on your skills (or a family member's like in my case). Thanks for stopping by and saying Hi!!

  3. I would love to do this, but I'm afraid that people in my area (or the ones that pass through my area) would destroy it.

  4. Oh, I've never heard of this before, but it's awesome! We rent a small house on a busy street with a ton of apartments and have TONS of passerby (and well as dogs out for a walk peeing in our small yard :)). If it wasn't for the fact that we're also right on the path of local high schoolers walking home after school, I'd totally consider this. Maybe for someday in the future if we live somewhere else though. Either way, I'm pinning! :)

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