Have you been seeing libraries popping up on every corner? Little Free Libraries are a growing phenomenon! As of 2017, there are over 60,000 registered Little Free Libraries in all 50 states and 80 countries.
Little Libraries run on the premise of "take a book, return a book." Rotarian Todd Bol built the first little library in 2009 in memory of his mother, a teacher who loved to read, on this premise. Now Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote a sense of community, reading for children, literacy for adults, and libraries around the world. Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.
And why does access matter? Studies show that one of the most successful ways to improve the reading achievement of children is to increase their access to books, especially at home. But according to the U.S. Department of Education, up to 61% of low-income families do not have any books for their kids at home. Little Free Libraries play an essential role by providing 24/7 access to books (and encouraging a love of reading!) in areas where books are scarce.
Fontana Regional Library works to provide convenient access to books in many ways. Part of fulfilling that mission has been to partner with community organizations and individuals in establishing Little Free Libraries. We opened our first Little Free Library in 2014, the same year that the Little Free Library organization began partnering with public libraries.
Two new Little Free Libraries will open in Macon County before the end of the year. Partnerships with the Friends of the Library, Macon County Schools, Duke Energy, Beale Construction, Read2Me, and the Macon County Crawford Senior Center have made it possible to install Little Libraries at Union Academy and the Crawford Senior Center. But it doesn’t stop there. Many dedicated community members steward these and other Little Libraries to be sure that everyone will find something good to read when they visit a Little Free Library.
If you’re interested in starting a Little Free Library in your corner of the world, contact your public library to find out more.