I am passionate about the ways that people are using their front gardens to engage with their neighbors and promote a sense of community.  So you can imagine my delight when I discovered two little free libraries in my hometown of South Pasadena.

Little free libraries are small structures (think doll house size) where people can take books home to read and leave behind their own books as well. The first was built by Todd Bol in 2009.  Bol built a miniature wooden one-room schoolhouse, stocked it with books, and mounted it outside his Hudson, WI home as a way to honor his late mother, a book-loving teacher. Rain or shine,  friends and neighbors would come by to make selections and drop off books. Today there are over 2,000 little free libraries throughout the US and abroad.

As the movement grows, people are beginning to put their own spin on the wee structures. In South Pasadena Michele Kipke & Priya Sridharan modeled their library after their Cliff May mid-century ranch style home. In a self-referential moment, they mounted the original plans for the little free library inside, just as the original Cliff May blueprints  hang in their home.

And in New York, PEN World Voices Festival and The Architectural League of New York sponsored a design competition that selected 10 architecture teams to design and install little free libraries in collaboration with host community organizations. The libraries are in use through September 1, and possibly permanently.

Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan/PEN American Center

Little Library owners pay $25 to the Little Free Library, a non profit organization, for a sign and a number.  The organization’s website features a locator map and information on ordering ready-made libraries or on building your own.

Is there a little free library in your neighborhood?  Add a picture to the comments here.  I would love to see them!

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