Have you seen them, the Little Free Libraries?


Andrew Sojka

A Little Free Library box here in Poolesville.

The small, upright, hollow statues resembling little houses filled with books have been appearing near local roads and trails inviting the passersby to stop and take a look. The words a “Little Free Library,” are inscribed somewhere on the box itself, implying that the books inside are available for any passing stranger to indulge themselves if they wish. Less of an implication and more for a purpose, these little libraries are there for public enjoyment- whether passersby realize this or not- as well as to inspire a love of reading in underserved communities.

These mini-libraries seem to pop up randomly, allowing access to these books without the need to visit a public library.  They can be found in neighborhoods and along local trails; their sporadic placing attributed to the will of whoever decides to put one up through a national organization called the Little Free Library.

On their highlights page, the Little Free Library states that “more than 165 million books have been shared through registered Little Free Libraries, profoundly increasing book access for readers of all ages and backgrounds.”

Anyone can create a Little Free Library, whether it is to dedicate it to a loved one or simply provide sustenance in what is known as a “book desert.” The Little Free Library organization started in 2009 with the idea that people could “take a book, leave a book,” for the purpose of providing 24/7 access to books, as well as encourage a love of reading in areas where books are scarce.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries, such as the local Poolesville public library, have not been open to the public. Those for whom the “Little Free Library” organization was created couldn’t access their local library before, and even more so now. As a result, these little libraries have become increasingly popular over the past year.

According to the Little Free Library Spring 2021 newsletter, “40% of Little Free Library volunteer stewards report that more children and families are using their libraries since the pandemic began.”

Despite setbacks from the pandemic, the Little Free Libraries have continued to grow every year. In 2020 they surpassed 100,000 registered libraries in more than 100 countries worldwide. A part of that number is located in our own town of Poolesville. So, next time you decide to take a stroll through your neighborhood, keep a lookout for these small surprises, and don’t be afraid to take a peek inside.