Creating Community With Little Free Libraries

Sep 27, 2016

The concept of the Tiny Free Library is simple - people build a small case on their property where they place books to share with the community. Some look like birdhouses, others, a recycled microwave or fridge. You can either borrow a book and bring it back or replace a book you want to keep with one of your own.

Credit Alyssa Robinson

According to the organization's website, there’s about 10 Little Libraries in Cache Valley and 40,000 worldwide.

USU Professor Lynn McNeill first heard of Little Free Libraries through her dissertation about book-crossing - a practice where people leave books out in nature or public areas for others to find. After McNeill learned about the libraries, it took her a few years to build one of her own.

“It was something that we always wanted to do, and we always talked about it with people,” said McNeill. “Our friends Jennifer and Jamie built one. So after they built one, we were like, 'We better get a move on.'”

McNeill and her husband, professor and co-steward of the library, Steven VanGeem, found that running the library helped their family not only connect with local readers but also with local writers.

“Star Coulbrooke, the [Logan] city poet laureate, gives us poetry of hers and we laminate it so it can be safe in the weather and put it out in the library as well,” says McNeill. “It’s been amazing.”

“It’s a really easy starting point for people to just kinda walk up and say, ‘I love the library’ and then we can talk about it," said VanGeem.

With Utah Public Radio News, I’m Alyssa Robinson.