1 December 2016 Susannah

Little Free Libraries

A Little Free Library

Have you heard of Little Free Libraries?

They are a form of community book exchange which started in the USA with the goal of establishing 2150 little free libraries (which was more than the number of free libraries established by Andrew Carnegie). That goal has been well and truly exceeded and it is thought that well over a million and a half books a year are donated and borrowed through the system.

A Little Free Library

A Little Free Library

The idea is to build or buy a little structure which can contain a shelf or two of books. You stick this up in your garden near the footpath, so that neighbours or passers-by can stop and borrow. Most provide a notebook and pencil so that borrowers can record loans and also make comments on books they have borrowed and read. Borrowers do not always return the same book – they might replace it with something different. The idea is that you ‘take a book, leave a book’. It’s a good aim to provide variety in your wee library – books for children, a thriller or two, some non-fiction etc.

The scheme aims to promote literacy and a love of books. The non-profit organisation is based in Wisconsin and you can register your Little Free Library with them for a small fee and have it feature on their website. You then get a Little Free Library sign. There are now LFLs in over 40 countries and they come in a fabulous range of designs, from a Dr Who Tardis one, to a Green Gables replica.

I’d love to have one in my front garden, but the railings of a Paddington terrace house do make it rather difficult to set one up with easy public access. You might like to consider having one as a new project for 2017?

Have you ever borrowed from a Little Free Library, or better still do you happen to have one already? Tell me about your experiences by leaving a comment.

  Susannah Fullerton: My Little Free Library

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Comments (10)


    Good Morning, I have just had the pleasure of attending your Australian Literature series, I felt like asking for a lift up to Lindfield with you to check out Ethel Turner’s family home! I live in Maitland (friend of Paula and Bob Cameron) and while walking my two labs this week, I noticed that a neighbour has put in a “Free Little Library”, so I have checked out the others in my area.
    Our local Maitland Council has just asked for community input into their magazine, “Meandering”, so I plan to write about the Little Free Libraries in our area…..looks as though 4 are registered (not the one around the corner yet). As a keen reader, I am delighted to :spread the word”. My suburb of Bolwarra is a delightful place with old (and new) homes and leafy wide streets! Maitland, of course, is a well established and historic city of NSW. As a mother (and mother-in-law) of high level Rugby players…..Maitland Rugby Club is the second oldest in Australia after Sydney University (my alma mater! ).
    Anyhow, I will let you know how I go ‘interviewing’ my neighbour – new to the area – about our new Little Free Library!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Lovely to hear from you, Heather, and thanks for your order of my course. I adore the Camerons so any friend of theirs is a friend of mine too. I am just delighted that you are promoting Little Free Libraries in your council magazine. I have one in front of my house. I didn’t officially register it with the scheme, but it is a neat little box with a door, and a sign on the lid stating Take a Book, Leave a Book. It gets well used and I love seeing what comes in and out.
      I love Maitland. The Jane Austen Society of Australia has held several conferences there over the years.
      I assume you get my free literary newsletter, Notes from a Book Addict, every month? If not, email me, or sign up via my web site.

      • Our Book Club (including Paula) have all been travelling, and we meet again on 22nd October – I am going to suggest we do your course; some of the ‘ladies’ do prefer a movie, in fact because of all the travel, our next Book/movie is “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” which I read some time ago – my other hat is as a local GP! and now we are going to see the HBO telemovie. Followed at the next meeting by the movie of the “Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Literary Society….” I can never get the name……I will miss that one, as another hat I wear is the incoming Chairman of ADFAS Pokolbin….yes, you have given a lecture there also a few years ago. That will be the evening of our AGM.
        Thanks for the reply.

        • Susannah Fullerton

          I wrote about the Henrietta Lacks book in my last newsletter. It was fascinating. I do hope your book club does my course. Even if you only discuss half of them, in between your various movies, you would still find it very cheap.

  2. Gabrielle Donovan

    First found one in Palmyra WA about 5 years ago, recently discovered one at the Henson Pub in Marrickville and one in Newtown. Love the idea considering to have one installed close to my home in Blue Mountains. Our local library service also offers free travelling books, found one at the local station recently.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Thanks for letting me know about the Little Free Libraries you have come across. I would love to see one in almost every street! I just wish I had one, but the front of my house is just not suited to putting one up that is easily reached. Good luck with getting yours established.

  3. Cheryl

    I was recently visiting my friend at Botany (a Sydney suburb) and chanced upon one of these cute little libraries proudly standing in the front yard of a house in Bay Street.

    It’s such a lovely idea, I wonder whether the owner of this library has any stories to tell, and how often it is used.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Isn’t it a great idea – so community minded and a fab way to share books. Many owners of Little Free Libraries leave a notebook and pencil inside the library, so that those who use it can leave comments about books they have read, or just express thanks for using the library.I should think every owner has some nice stories to tell (someone should write a book about owning LFLs).

  4. MJM

    Hurlstone Park train station has one on the shops side of the station – a red cabin full of books. It was established by the local library, and certainly is refreshed by them from time to time…but many other books come and go.

    I have also seen them in New York City and Berlin.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Thanks for letting me know where you have spotted Little Free Libraries. I recently saw one in a small Italian town, and have seen lots in the USA. For a library to have one is an excellent diea, as they always have books they are culling from their collections.

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