In 2009, Todd Bol built a tiny model schoolhouse out of recycled materials and posted it in his front yard, filled it with books, and posted a sign reading ‘Free Books.’ The book exchange quickly became a hit in the Hudson community and beyond, so Bol built more models for friends and neighbors to post. Soon, Rick Brooks caught wind of the project, and the two proceeded to collaborate to make the project’s growth more organized and official. They established a core mission, ‘To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.’ They took inspiration from Andrew Carnegie, who helped found 2,509 public libraries in his lifetime. Bol and Brooks made it their goal to beat Carnegie’s record by building 2,510 Little Free Libraries.
As growth continued quickly, the media soon caught on, and by the end of 2011 there were nearly 400 Little Free Libraries across the U.S. In May 2012, the Little Free Library became an official Wisconsin nonprofit corporation, and by August, Bol and brooks had reached their goal of 2,510 Little Free Libraries. By January 2015, that number had grown to about 25,000 libraries, and today the number of Little Free Libraries around the world has surpassed 40,000.
Little Free Libraries are located all over San Francisco, in neighborhoods including the Sunset, the Richmond, Seacliff, the Haight, Twin Peaks, the Castro, Noe Valley, the Mission, Potrero Hill, the Dogpatch, and more. Check out the official map of Little Free Libraries to find one near you.
If you want to get more involved with the project, you can become a steward by starting a Little Free Library in your own neighborhood. There are no specific requirements for the structure itself, so you are welcome to build your own, or you can order one of the variety of styles the foundation has for sale. In order to use the official Little Free Library name, you are required to register your library, pay a $40 fee, and post your official charter sign and number on your library. Alternately, you can contribute to the Little Free Library project by making a tax deductible donation.