As my friend and I were driving through Venice a month or so ago, I saw a wooden box on the side of the road that almost resembled a birdhouse. As we came to a stop, I saw that this structure contained books and was part of the Little Free Library book exchange. Oddly enough, I saw multiple Little Free Libraries pop up on campus shortly thereafter. As a Communication Studies major, I love reading and writing, but I had actually never heard of the Little Free Library system nor seen them around town before. I thought the concept was clever and fun, so I decided to learn more and conduct some research.
The Little Free Library book exchange started in 2009 in Hudson, WI, and there are now more than 36,000 Little Free Libraries around the globe. According to their website, the mission of these exchanges is to build a literacy-friendly neighborhood and in turn develop a sense of community. Moreover, these libraries work to promote the overall enjoyment and love of reading. The mantra of these libraries is ‘take a book, return a book,’ which also gives people an interactive and engaging literary experience. In an age where everything is digitized and has an electronic version, I found it refreshing that the Little Free Libraries offer readers tangible copies of books and adhere to a more traditional library structure.
At LMU, the Laband Art Gallery and William H. Hannon Library have partnered to bring five Little Free Libraries to campus. I have spotted these libraries in University Hall, near the Bluff right outside WHH Library, and along the walkway between the Lair and Foley building as well. On various occasions, I have seen students and faculty take books from LMU’s Little Free Libraries and replace them with new ones. Also, every time I peer inside one, I always see new books, which reveals how the LMU community is appreciating and making use of this system on campus.
The most exciting thing about these systems is the eclectic array of titles that one can find inside of them. For example, I have sampled titles ranging from historical works to health books, which showcases the varied, interesting content that one can find in these libraries. On my daily walks from class to class, I always try to stop by and see which new works have appeared.
Although students can become absorbed in classes, homework, and jobs, I value how the Little Free Libraries bring balance to LMU. By providing quick and easy access to literature, these libraries give students an outlet to sit down and relax with a book. Reading is so meaningful and important, and I am glad that the Little Free Libraries remind me of this every time I see them.