A new way to recycle books: Little Free Libraries

Keep your eyes open, and you’ll see Little Free Libraries sprouting up all over Northeast Ohio.

These book-houses (they look like birdhouses, although they’re a little larger) take books out of the bookstore and into the community. Anyone who wants a book can take one and keep it. Or return it. Or pass it on to the next reader. It’s that simple.


This Little Free Library was designed by Todd Bol in memory of his mother, Esther Bol, a school teacher and lover of books. Photo credit: Lisa Colon DeLay

The Little Free Library movement got started when Todd Bol, the son of a Wisconsin schoolteacher, built the first one — a model of a one-room schoolhouse — as a memorial to his mother, mounted it on his front lawn, and filled it with books. He shared his idea with a friend who had been helping to support village libraries in Sri Lanka. The idea went viral: you’ll find Little Free Libraries in all 50 states and at least 40 countries worldwide. (Read more about Todd Bol and the beginnings of Little Free Libraries here.)

Locally, a retired library director, Bob Cheshier, picked up on the idea and placed 14 Little Free Libraries near Cleveland schools. After Bob died earlier this year, the community continued his work. (For more of Bob’s story, check out Margaret Bernstein’s articles in the May 26 and May 30 Cleveland Plain Dealer.)

Mentor Public Library has placed Little Free Libraries in 12 locations in Mentor and Mentor-on-the-Lake (see articles in the News-HeraldPlain Dealer and Mentor Patch), and Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood is placing ten of them around the Promise Neighborhood.

Want to donate a book? If there’s a Little Free Library in your neighborhood, just add it to the collection. Or check out the map on the Little Free Library website. The little boxes are turning up in more and more places as the movement continues to grow, locally and worldwide.

Little Free Libraries: one more way to keep books in the hands of readers and out of the landfill.

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2 responses to “A new way to recycle books: Little Free Libraries

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