Friday, December 2, 2016

Little Free Libraries, by Susan Oleksiw

On my daily walk through the neighborhood I take note of the changes and additions, sometimes stopping to take a photo. Over the last few years I’ve noticed one addition that I especially enjoy. Several residents of my town have joined the Little Free Library program, and we now have four libraries in my zip code, plus one that's an independent. That’s not a lot for a small city of 40,000 people, but it makes us part of a worldwide movement.

According to the official website, “in 2009 Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse” as a tribute to his mother, a teacher who loved to read. He added books and an invitation for passers-by to take one. The general invitation is to take one, and leave one. Todd wanted to build as many little libraries as Andrew Carnegie built large ones, over 2,500. It didn’t take Todd long. He reached his goal in August 2012, and by November 2016, he reached the amazing number of 50,000 Little Free Libraries throughout the world.

Why am I telling you this since you probably already know all about these little gems? I use my daily walk to think through the story I’m working on. This is when I try to set aside my frustrations and let my unconscious go to work on its own. Often my thoughts begin with a common lament, which goes something like this. Even if I figure out what’s wrong with this plot, what difference does it make? Is anyone going to read this thing? The reports on books sales and publishing waver between dismal and awful, so why expend so much energy? But sometimes I read that book sales are surprisingly but suspiciously resilient. I have no idea which one to believe? Will anyone care if I give the world another book?

And then I come across a new Little Free Library. I don’t know about you, but these things cheer me up enormously. They are inspirational in their demonstration of the belief that people care about books and are fundamentally honest. I always stop to see what’s inside. Right now most of them in my area are offering children’s or young adults books, a few novels, and some nonfiction, including travel. One includes a lot of self-help books, including how to choose wine. I have borrowed and donated books, and expect I will do so again.

I usually keep on walking, making a mental note to return later to leave a book and borrow one. But no matter how I feel when I first see the Little Free Library, I always feel noticeably better as I walk on. I forget about my lament and my story problems, and take in the world around me. Once again, books have changed how I feel.

For more information on this movement, and to check out the number of little free libraries in your area, go to

And if you're so inclined, check out the newest Joe Silva, and leave your copy for others to enjoy.
You can find a copy of this and other books by me here.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi Susan,

As writers, we also are readers and that means supporting libraries both for our benefit and that of other readers. Children are often the most avid readers and we all need to encourage them.

Susan Oleksiw said...

Jacquie, I think these little libraries must be a delight for children. They seem a little high off the ground, but the one at the beach is low enough so that children can choose something themselves. Thanks for commenting.

Bonnie Tharp said...

I love the "Little Libraries" initiative. I think it is one of the best ideas ever. Near a business downtown, a friend of mine put one up and he finds that in that area the children's books are most popular. Another one in a residential area said that romance novels go first. Any way to share stories ROCKS to me!