Books Around the Block
It’s no secret. Books can make a big difference. and Little Free Libraries can make books easy to find.
*Update – the latest Books Around The Block program manual is available here. This is your comprehensive guide to bringing Little Free Libraries to your neighborhood!*
Sometimes the best place to find friends is with a book…at school, in a library, or on the the way home. In cities throughout the United States and the world, readers of all ages can discover even more—adventure, comfort, wisdom and delight–in their own neighborhood Little Free Libraries.
The words and pictures on a page can open young minds to learning. Confidence. A life they can look forward to. With your help, these are feelings that almost anyone can have, no matter where they live.
Books Around the Block got its start in 2012 when Minneapolis Public Schools and Little Free Library agreed to establish 100 neighborhood book exchanges in areas of the city where children have not yet learned the pleasure and rewards of reading.
“where children have not yet learned the pleasure and rewards of reading.”
Research shows that children who have books in their home read at up to two grade levels higher than those who do not have books. Instead of seeing books only in school or public libraries, kids and adults can find things to read on their daily walks, then take the books home with them.
Being able to find good books at different grade levels will help attract new readers. It can also encourage parents to improve their own reading skills. The “Take a book, return a book” system makes it easy for everyone to benefit. Residents over the age of 50 are as welcome to share books as pre-school children.
How This Program Works
Each neighborhood that agrees to host a Little Free Library identifies an individual or group to serve as a steward. Stewards give the Libraries the care they need. Finding a person who is committed to the Library is an important first step. Then comes the decision about where the Library will be located.
Next, the Little Libraries Themselves--You can buy standard or custom-made Little Free Library Originals, assemble Libraries from kits, or create your own. Little Free Library Originals and kits include the full registration and stewards’ package. Many Libraries are built from recycled materials by do-it-yourself hobbyists. Some are produced by scouts, youth groups, service clubs or vocational schools.
Neighborhood Building Days–The most effective (and fun!) way to build enthusiasm is to host a Neighborhood Building Day where volunteers come together to construct between one and 20 or more Libraries in a matter of hours. Sponsors can help cover the cost of creating and shipping pre-cut and pre-painted mix-and-match Library kits like the one in the photo above or cover other expenses, including:
- Shipping and handling, special signs and recognition
- Building day location, food for volunteers, tools, trained supervision or event coordination.
- Tools and supplies
Businesses and organizations often help underwrite the overall effort. Media coverage and co-sponsorship boosts participation. School clubs, parents, service clubs, businesses, charities and individuals become sponsors. Children and families play their part by collecting and contributing books of their own. The greater the involvement of children, the better.
Stewardship and Follow-up Helps Ensure Success A sign on the Library acknowledges sponsor and officially serves to register the Library as a part of a citywide and worldwide network. Each registration entitles stewards and friends to a wide range of benefits, learning opportunities and help.
The nationally-known Coffee House Press , other publishers and corporate sponsors help provide books. And when each Library is installed, a celebration is in order. Then the real mission of Little Free Libraries–community, reading for children, literacy for adults and libraries, big and small–begins to reach its full potential.