A Big Celebration for Little Free Libraries

Thousands gather in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the first-ever Little Free Library Festival.

| Fall 2016

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The community gathers to show off their own Little Free Libraries.

Photos by John Pearson, Courtesy of Little Free Library

All over the world, Little Free Libraries are bringing people together. Like an extended front porch or a neighborhood water cooler, each friendly book exchange encourages interaction, conversation, and a pay-it-forward attitude between friends and strangers alike.

In other words, these Little Libraries inspire people to share more than just books.

Since the first Little Free Library was built in 2009, the charming book boxes have become a global movement. There are now 40,000 Little Free Libraries in all 50 states and 70 countries—from Los Angeles to New York, Idaho to Iowa, and Italy to Afghanistan.

Little Free Library owners, known as “stewards,” recount stories of receiving thank-you notes from kids excited to read, talking to next-door neighbors for the first time, and getting to know people from other walks of life. One steward tells of a chance meeting with a favorite grade-school teacher she hadn’t seen in decades; another tells of an elderly Chinese woman bringing homemade egg rolls to his house in appreciation for the books in his Library.

Recently, Little Free Libraries brought an impressive number of neighbors together in Minneapolis, Minnesota: On May 21, 8,000 people gathered at the first-ever Little Free Library Festival.

It was a day as eclectic as Little Free Libraries themselves (which have been built to resemble everything from miniature log cabins to 6-foot-tall robots). Attendees enjoyed a giant book swap, a literary canine parade, free haircuts for kids who read to barbers, Harry Potter trivia, music, storytelling, food, and more. In addition, they worked together to build 104 Little Free Libraries that would be donated to communities where they could make an impact on the organization’s mission points: a love of reading, community, and creativity.