“Congratulations! We are very happy to inform you that you have been selected as a recipient of an Impact Library package!”
I hadn’t quite finished my morning tea yet and was scrolling blearily through my email inbox when this sentence caught my eye. I blinked, wondering if my not-fully-opened eyes had read it right. I looked again at the screen. It definitely said what I’d thought I read. This can’t be right. I looked at the email address. Was this legit? I was actually getting a Little Free Library?!?
What is a Little Free Library and where do I find one?
Little Free Libraries are one of my favorite literary destinations. They are the perfect solution for leaving a finished book and picking up a new one for free while traveling. And visiting them always takes me into pretty residential neighborhoods I otherwise wouldn’t have seen. The Little Free Library Company mission is to increase literacy and access to books neighborhood by neighborhood by encouraging people to add these take-a-book/leave-a-book stations in their own neighborhoods. Official Little Free Libraries are registered with the Little Free Library company and can be found all over the world. You can locate libraries with the help of the map on their website. If you’re lucky, you may find one, or even a few, near you. I always search the map before I travel so I know where the closest library is in case I finish my book on the airplane.
How can I make my own Little Free Library?
Little Free Libraries range in size, shape, material, and design depending on their owners creativity. For those wishing to create their own Little Free Library but lack the material (or creativity, like me) to build one themselves, the Little Free Library Company sells kits on their website in the form of small houses about twice the size of a mailbox. Stands, dog leash hooks, personalized registration plates, and a few other goodies can also be bought to add to the library. Because these kits can be on the expensive side and the Little Free Library Company wants everyone to have the ability to add a library to their neighborhood, groups and individuals can apply for a free library from the company’s Impact Fund Program. Donations to Little Free Library help pay for the company to send free libraries to individuals world-wide.
The email wasn’t asking for my social security or bank number… all it wanted was a mailing address. I decided to respond, figuring when they saw Alaska in the address they’d email again to tell me there had been some sort of mistake and to keep dreaming. But no! Eight weeks later a Little Free Library, complete with a stand and a starter box of books, has arrived at my door!! I’m SO excited to paint it and get it outside…just as soon as the ground thaws! Guys, A Suitcase Full of Books is getting a physical Library!
For a while now I’ve been eyeing the kits on the Little Free Library website. First of all, as a librarian living in a neighborhood full of kids, I feel as though providing a place for the children to exchange books is simply my duty. Secondly, while I love sharing the books that inspire my travels with all of you, a Little Free Library of my own will allow me to share physical copies of my favorite books that return home with me. And finally, because Little Free Libraries bring me so much joy when I travel, I hope I can do the same for other travelers like myself. I mentioned these reasons to a friend and fellow Little Free Library owner upon seeing a call by the company on social media for current owners to nominate someone for their Impact Fund. She kindly agreed to apply for me and unfortunately soon after emailed to tell me the application had been rejected. Therefore I was quite surprised and very sure a mistake had been made when I received the Impact Fund email.
Mistake or no, I’d like to thank the Little Free Library Company on behalf of myself, my neighborhood, and future travelers for selecting me to be a Little Free Library steward, and I’d like to thank Nancy DeCherney for her lovely application nomination! And readers, starting this summer you can look forward to the occasional tale of the Suitcase Little Free Library!
Visit the Impact Fund website to find out more about the Little Free Library Impact Program, Donate, apply, or check out the map of Impact Fund Libraries.
Visit the Official Little Free Library Map to find libraries near you or your next travel destination.