The Children who Organize Free Little Libraries

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April 6, 2015; KOAA-TV (Colorado Springs, CO)

While some students go on trips for spring break, nine-year-old Zoey Halbert spent hers turning an old dollhouse into a tiny library. These libraries, part of a new trend in Colorado Springs, provide a free exchange of children’s books.

The name of Zoey’s project is “Our Little Library,” and she created it because the school she attends, Mountain Song Community School, does not have a full library.

“I just feel that kids should read because it’s really fun and it makes you get more smart,” Zoey said.

The idea for the library is, “Bring a book, trade a book.” Her hope is that children take the books, keep them in nice condition, and return them.

While Zoey and her dad are spreading the word about “Our Little Library” and are receiving donations of books, they still need more. Not only are they accepting children’s books, but young adult books and those for older readers are also welcome.

Tiny libraries are not only on trend in Colorado Springs. The Little Free Library program began in 2009 when Todd Bol opened up a dispensary in Hudson, Wisconsin, and invited those passing by to “take a book, return a book.” Now, Little Free Libraries are in at least 36 countries throughout the world. In February 2013, NPQ covered the reporting of the Staten Island Advocate, which said, “Members of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island (UCSI) are continuing the church’s tradition of promoting a love of books and the free exchange of ideas by opening up a Little Free Library in the church’s front yard.” From that newswire:

“There are no due dates, late fees, or library cards required, and the doors are open every day of the week. The idea is not meant to replace public libraries. Rather, it is intended to enhance a community’s library services as a further inducement to read and an effort to promote literacy. Participants have reported surprisingly few thefts or acts of vandalism.”

In December 2014, NPQ also reported on the passion of eight-year-old Madison Reid from Cleveland for Little Free Libraries. Her mother is an advocate for one of the local Little Free Libraries, and Madison was recorded in a video describing why the libraries are so important.

With the modern emphasis on technology, and with many students replacing paper books with electronic ones, this trend has the potential to continue or become a simple novelty.—Erin Lamb