I love to read, but even more, I love to share what I’m reading with others… and when I find a person who loves a book I love, I feel like I’ve met a new friend. So when I saw my first Little Free Library, I was inspired.
WHAT IS A LITTLE FREE LIBRARY?
A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common version is a small wooden box of books. Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share. Little Free Library book exchanges have a unique, personal touch.
Little Free Library is a registered nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. Each library built by an individual has a plaque with a number on it, and is registered. There are 50,000 registered LFL’s in the U.S.
Little Libraries are small—25×18” or so, and mounted on a sturdy post in private yards, in parks, or near schools. Area LFL’s near me are in New London, Old Lyme, and Old Saybrook. In Niantic, there is only one: a LFL in Giants’ Neck, around the corner from me– it’s so cute, I was motivated to install one in my yard and become a Little Free Library Steward.
First I had to get permission from the zoning and planning officials, just to be sure I don’t install it and have difficulty later, as one 9-year old boy did in Kansas. So I wrote up a proposal, including information on regulations other towns have for these little libraries. Derby, Kentucky had pretty standard regulations on handling the new Little Libraries showing up around town (courtesy of Jo Simon).
Any individual or organization desiring to place a Little Free Library should be advised of the following: Little Free Libraries meeting the below listed conditions are not subject to permitting or licensing requirements of the City of Derby:
- Little Free Libraries are considered as an accessory use, and are permitted in any zoning district; provided that, all such libraries meet the following placement requirements:
- Shall not be located within or overhang the public street right-of-way or any public easement;
- Shall not obstruct vehicular, bicycle or pedestrian traffic, either physically, or by a person utilizing the Little Free Library;
- Shall not obstruct access aisles or paths utilized by persons in wheelchairs or for ADA accessibility;
- May be placed as a permitted obstruction in a required front yard (area between the front wall of a building and the public street right-of-way);
- Enclosures shall be sized and arranged such that no person or child is able to enter;
- Shall be anchored to the ground or otherwise securely attached to something having a permanent location on the ground.
You can see Little Free Libraries on their web site, as well as Pinterest — along with pictures of families and neighbors enjoying reading and sharing books!
So after I did my research, I sent off my proposal to the Town of East Lyme, and within a week got my approval! Next step was selecting the design of my LFL and building it. We found a perfect one at a good price on Etsy (thank you, Neighborhood Library Shop and Angie Freeman!), so we decided to buy it rather than make it. It has a solar light and window walls, so the books will be quite visible to passers by– and it arrived quickly! I painted the shelf with little designs, even though it won’t show too much.
Next step was digging the hole. In New England, that was hard– of course we hit rock. But we persevered and have our hole complete and the post installed.
The books I put in my library were some of our family’s favorites, so it is exciting to share them and watch who selects which book and see happy children taking their own book. The first to go were 2 Dr. Seuss books– Cat in the Hat and Fox in Socks + one Junie B. Jones for a third grader. Several neighbors have left me notes in the journal we placed in the library. It’s so exciting to have such positive responses!
If you look online, you can see a map of all the LFL’s in your state. Stewards register them so they are easy to locate! After posting information about our LFL on the neighborhood association page, we got 29 likes and 9 positive comments the first day. Couldn’t resist putting a little information sheet out with some lollipops for the first day to entice visitors, too! Try one for your neighborhood– it will bring you great joy!