March 22, 2018

Little Libraries Sprout Across the Country

Since LJ reported on the Little Free Library project last August, the idea has begun to spread beyond its home state of Wisconsin. Individual book-loving homeowners are creating them in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, CBS reported, and in Iowa, according to The Press-Citizen.

In Syracuse, NY, a collaborative project to build the mini-braries was launched by residents, the iSchool, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the Office of Community Engagement and Economic Development. The group created a design based on repurposed public telephones, and opened their first in early February.

For those who don’t have a whole design school at their disposal, the Little Free Library project offers libraries for purchase as well as plans for building your own. And for those who want to help but don’t have a place to put a library, the project also accepts donations to help defray the costs of others’ libraries. A Google map tracks all the Little Free Libraries in place so far.

Corner Library

The Corner Library in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

For a more urban take on the micro-library there’s The Corner Libraries, which began in New Haven, CT, and has had test installations around New York. Now the project is “working on installing a bunch of libraries more permanently, which means complying with all city regulations on news racks, starting in downtown Manhattan and hopefully spreading throughout the world,” founder Colin McMullan said on his website. Possible locations, he told LJ, include Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the Flatiron/Chelsea neighborhood (in collaboration with people from the Center for Book Arts), and Storrs, CT (with Norman Stevens, founder of the Molesworth Institute and head librarian Emeritus of the University of Connecticut).

McMullan builds the libraries from scraps as a volunteer, making them essentially free. “Which is fine but maybe not that sustainable,” he said. “I’m interested in the pay it forward” model that the Little Free Library uses, he says. He hopes to work with the Little Free Library in the future. Unlike the Little Free Libraries, the Corner Libraries are locked; patrons who inquire are given a library card and the combination. The collections are seeded by volunteer librarians, who check them daily, and built up by patrons, and McMullen encourages people to donate objects that mean a lot to them or that they had a hand in creating. The collection of the Williamsburg Corner Library can be seen on Tumblr.

If that’s not ambitious enough, Brooklyn artists Julia Marchesi and Leon Reid IV are building The Hundred Story House. The 6-foot-high brownstone will be located in Cobble Hill Park, where it will house (of course) 100 books. Marchesi plans to donate the first 100 books from her own collection, according to New York’s Daily News. The project is being funded through crowdsourcing site Kickstarter. At press time, $8,296 of the project’s $13,000 goal had been pledged, with 10 days to go until the March 2nd deadline.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz ( is Executive Editor of Library Journal.



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