Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Little Libraries and Communal Sustainability

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librariesI was recently walking through Queen Anne when I spotted something rather extraordinary in the front lawn of the house to my left. Standing atop a wooden post was a white box with a clear door that opened to a small selection of books, nestled tightly inside, waiting for the right person to come along and choose them. The writing on the box made it clear that an honest person could do just that, so long as they had another book on them that they were willing to part with. The exterior of the book-house read:

Little Free Library

Take a book, leave a book

I smiled wide and looked around to see if anyone else was sharing my glorious discovery. It was something I had never seen before, but after reporting the find to my worldlier roommate I quickly learned that this was not an isolated example of literary goodwill. Little free libraries are existing all over the place. The idea is rooted in the minds of Todd Bol and Rick Brooks, the homepage to their endeavor found here, where little libraries are available to order if you don’t want to take a crack at building one yourself. Bol and Brooks met while both were exploring the benefits of green practices in small businesses. They started the little free library program in 2009 as a part of the non-profit organization Wisconsin Partners for Sustainability. The little free library team is now made up of nine people, the website stating their missions as: “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.” Awesome sauce says me. Talk about a human-driven process of renewal, the contents of these makeshift libraries constantly refreshed through the act of people giving and receiving.

Such ideals of growing community and encouraging sustainability through shared resources seems to be a very positive growing trend. There are Community Gardens, which seek to  bring people together while conserving resources and create pleasant areas of green among more concrete-dominated urban areas, charitable “pending coffees”, which give people the opportunity to help a completely random stranger that they will likely never meet in a small but meaningful way,  and Communities sharing tools and yard equipment, a fantastic idea that brings up several things to think about. Do all of us really need our own (insert random tool here)? As pointed out by, sharing such rarely used items can help cut down the amount of excessively used resources that go into manufacturing and transporting them. If I may leech off the work of my blogging predecessor for a moment, you might also check out Sara’s article on how environmental quality improves our level of happiness, making such communal efforts healthy in a very personal way as well as a force for the collective good and well-being of our planet. This kind of mutually beneficial community involvement spreading to the world of books is certainly something to be celebrated.  If you didn’t get a chance to recycle some of your unwanted books at one of SPU’s Move-Out stations, perhaps you can find a little library near you and pass forward the goods. But please, keep your math textbook far away. Nobody wants that. You can try to find a little library near you here.

And for your enjoyment/jealousy, here are some pictures of a few especially crafty little free libraries.

library 1library 4Calib(0,1,1,0, 0, 0, 1); AWB(1642,1562); Info(776,1276,240,-138,1024,100,0)library 3library 5

 So what do you think? Great idea or the greatest idea? Are you inspired to make your own?

One thought on “Little Libraries and Communal Sustainability

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