Little Free Libraries

Portland is an excellent city to live in if you’re a book-lover (or a coffee-lover, beer-lover, movie-lover, dog-lover… it really checks all the boxes).

Powell’s – the largest independent bookstore in the world – takes up an entire city block. Hidden gem used bookstores can be found in every neighborhood (Daedalus in my case), and strolling around residential areas, you’ll come across dozens of creatively decorated and lovingly maintained Little Free Libraries installed in front of homes. 

Little Free Library didn’t start here, but it has certainly been embraced by the city. Founded in 2012 in Wisconsin, this nonprofit’s mission is to expand access to books across communities globally.

The concept is simple: anyone can become a “steward” and install a box where community members can take or leave books for free, 24/7. 

While it’s a straightforward idea, the scope is impressive. More than 100,000 Little Free Libraries can be found throughout over 100 countries, resulting in books being shared through this system every single day. You can find a map here.

The organization makes it clear why this matters: “Today in the United States, more than 30 million adults cannot read or write above a third-grade level. Studies have repeatedly shown that books in the hands of children have a meaningful impact on improving literacy. The more books in or near the home, the more likely a child will learn and love to read. But two out of three children living in poverty have no books to call their own.

To help solve this problem, Little Free Library offers programs like their Impact Program that provide materials for starting these lending libraries in the communities that need them the most.

Anyone else interested in becoming a “steward” can buy a box through their site, or download blueprints and watch tutorial videos if they want to build their own and then register.

Photos from around Portland:

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