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Little Free Libraries Bring Back the Beauty of a Book

As more people are swiping rather than turning a page, Bayside, Wis. and many other communities are bringing back the beauty of a book with Little Free Libraries.

While many people are shifting to thin, tech-savvy e-books, some still haven't forgotten the feeling of a traditional book — the smooth paper pages, showing character and age with the occasional coffee spot or a crooked dog-eared page marking a favorite passage.

The lure of a physical, paper book has not been entirely lost, and thanks to Kim Caviggiola of Fox Point, Wis. a new Little Free Library (LFL) will help remind local park-goers of the beauty of a book.

“For younger people, it’s important to expose them to the touch and feel of a book and turning pages,” Caviggiola said. “There’s something unique about holding a book in your hand, opening the cover and in some instances, seeing the author’s autograph on the title page.” 

”Reading is universal and something that we can share and use to connect with each other."

The Little Free Libraries are a way for community members to share books among one another. The concept is to "take a book, return a book," says Todd Bol, who built the first Little Free Library outside his home in Hudson, Wis. two years ago in honor of his mother.

That little memorial led to a worldwide movement, with an estimated 1,800 libraries in areas like Ghana, Afghanistan, Mexico, Haiti, Canada, Australia, India, Republic of Congo, Italy and more, according to Bol. But that's not enough--the group hopes to see at least 2,510 Little Free Libraries worldwide, which would exceed the number of libraries built by Andrew Carnegie. 

“It’s exciting to see a great idea from my home state take off and generate interest with so many different cultures,” Caviggiola said.

“Reading is universal and something that we can share and use to connect with each other.”

Most LFLs look slightly like a bird house. While there are no set instructions on how they have to be designed, most are roughly 20 inches wide by 24 inches tall and have a door to protect the books from the elements. The website has blueprints for a standard LFL along with many ideas on creative modifications that other designers have come up with in the past. You can build your own library and have it registered with the Little Free Library organization, or you can order a ready-made library on the site. 

They range in price from $250 to $600 depending on the size and building materials used. There's an entire photo gallery on the site devoted to capturing the spirit and creativity behind many of the personal designs of LFLs. From London telephone booths to bright red barns, the vast majority of the LFLs are individually and personally designed to reflect each community.

Caviggiola’s LFL is at near the playground equipment. A Bayside village employee also built a LFL and that one has been installed by the South parking lot. 

“The Little Free Library is a great way for Bayside residents to connect,” Caviggiola said. “People can pick up a book, read it and leave another book with a small handwritten note that provides a recommendation or short review of what they read.  It’s a great was to start conversations with neighbors and friends and continue the dialogue.” 

You can find more articles from this ongoing series, “Dispatches: The Changing American Dream” from across the country at The Huffington Post.

Jean Bernstein June 26, 2012 at 01:34 AM
This is such a great thing for our community!
Liza Wiemer June 26, 2012 at 12:04 PM
What an amazing!!! idea. Congratulatuons to the entire community.
Leslie Watkins June 29, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Thanks so much for writing about Little Free Library in your blog, your piece brought a lot of new visitors to our website!! Sincere regards, lwatkins@littlefreelibrary.org
Nsmommy September 24, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I have enjoyed several books from the Ellsworth Park LFL and one located in Whitefish Bay. There is nothing as wonderful as reading a book in a park. This is such a great project!

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