While Chicago has plenty of libraries, both public and private, there’s no such thing as “too much” access to books. A fairly new way to share books in the community is through “Little Free Library.”
Little Free Library is a “take a book, leave a book” program that operates in over 80 countries. While the nonprofit itself offers support to help build and launch a Little Free Library location, the library itself is primarily run by the community. These libraries look like large birdfeeders, and inside them you’ll find books from your neighbors. The concept is a fairly simple one- if you decide to take a book to read, just leave one of your own in it’s place!
One of the most notable things about Little Free Libraries is that it offers more than books- it offers a chance to get to know your neighbors, too. Not only are you all sharing your favorite reads with one another, but people tend to run into one another while doing book exchanges. According to their website, 73% of people have met some of their neighbors thanks to the Little Free Libraries program and 92% of people feel like their community is friendlier thanks to the program (source).
Chicago has quite a few Little Free Library locations across the city- perhaps even near you! Check out the interactive map here to find the nearest location. Although we do have quite a few “normal sized” libraries, this program is also a chance to meet people in your neighborhood, and share books and ideas. It might even be worth taking a look at the different designs people have come up with!
A lot of these libraries have their own unique designs and decorations, with the official “Little Free Libraries” plaque. While you can purchase a pre-build library, no two are the same. For those who decide to build their own libraries, there are a few guidelines which you can find on their website. If you’re a bit stumped design-wise, people have also shared their own blueprints for inspiration. You can also check out the Little Free Libraries’ Facebook and Instagram pages to see what others have come up with! Here are few of our favorites:
(Remember to check with your neighborhood laws about building new structures if you are interested in creating your own.) And when it comes to reading and the community, here’s hoping the Free Little Libraries of Chicago get you excited about reading and meeting neighbors in a whole new way.