Ten years ago, Todd H. Bol built the first Little Free Library. He put it in front of his home in Hudson, Wis. and created a movement propelled by book lovers around the world with more than 80,000 Little Free Libraries in all 50 states and in 91 countries. Bol was lost to us last year after a battle with pancreatic cancer, but his libraries are sure to remain a lasting legacy.
Furthering that legacy includes a new book published in cooperation with the Little Free Library organization titled Little Free Libraries and Tiny Sheds: 12 Miniature Structures You Can Build by Phillip Schmidt. It contains detailed illustrations and photography covering every step in the planning and design of 12 different structures, including a replica of the first Little Free Library built by Bol in the style of a one-room schoolhouse with a bell on top.
Bol’s original design is available for the first time according to Margaret Aldrich, spokesperson for the Little Free Library, a nonprofit organization. Aldrich is also a writer and published a book in 2015 titled The Little Free Library Book that details the history of the movement along with interviews with Little Free Library owners and a resource guide. “I loved working on the book and the organization,” Aldrich says. “I got to talk to so many people about why they wanted to [build a Little Free Library] and the impact it has on their community. Whether in the Ukraine, Brazil or South Korea, people want universal things like sharing the love of reading and building community.”
Aldrich says that over the years, one of the most visited pages on the organization’s website is about how to build a Little Free Library. “People get so creative and we love it when people build their own and register it with us,” she says. Many people were requesting more details on how to build one, so when the Little Free Library organization was approached by the Quarto Group, a book publisher, to create a DIY book about building Little Free Libraries, Aldrich thought it was a wonderful idea.
Schmidt had worked with Quarto before. “He’s such a pro,” Aldrich says of Schmidt’s ability to write all of the detailed instructions and create the step-by-step photography. Aldrich wrote chapter five, providing practical information about how to register your Little Free Library and curating your books. But what she says is really special about this book is that Bol wrote the foreword. “It’s the last thing he put out into the world before he passed away,” she says.
The book makes a wonderful keepsake and gift for any DIY-er, book lover or anyone who cherishes the contributions to literacy and community offered up by a local persona and organization.
Other 10-year celebratory events include a giveaway of 10 commemorative Little Free Libraries to communities in need. Visit littlefreelibrary.org to see the winners and get connected. The Little Free Library movement is for everybody, no matter your age or economic background. Share a book in a Little Free Library or start your own. You can do it. It’s easy and impactful.
Try this DIY
Want to build this replica of the original LFL (pictured below) for your neighborhood? Find step-by-step instructions in Little Free Libraries and Tiny Sheds: 12 Miniature Structures You Can Build for this and other LFL designs.