Operation Free Book Exchange

By Abbie Thielke

There has been a trend surfacing not only in Columbia, but also in many cities around the country: little hand-crafted structures that house collections of books donated and shared by people of all ages and backgrounds. These mini schoolhouse look alikes are popping up in many communities throughout the Columbia area. Little Free Library is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization whose mission is to promote a sense of community, reading for children, literacy for adults and libraries around the world. Most Little Free Libraries are placed in front yards, parks, gardens and easily accessible locations like coffee shops, restaurants and community centers. The libraries are built to withstand weather conditions and hold anywhere from 20 to 100 books.

Like many that still populate front yards, Little Free Libraries were originally designed to look like a one-room school or a “house of books.” In recent years, however, the libraries have taken on a wide variety of sizes, shapes and themes for there is no standard guideline.
The idea of this network of unique structures with stewards, signage and social support began in Hudson, Wis. in 2010. To officially maintain a Little Free Library, the free book exchange must have an official sign, number or listing on the Little Free Library “Map of the World.” For more information or to locate nearby Little Free Libraries visit littlefreelibrary.org. 

«  back to issue