Little Free Library’s Top 10 Stories of 2021

By Margret Aldrich

Once again, it was a year like no other here at the LFL nonprofit organization! We continue to be inspired and uplifted by Little Free Library volunteer stewards and community partners who are working to increase book access, bring people together, and spread book joy. Here are a few of our favorite stories from 2021:

10. “Little Free Library Unbound” Debuts

The year kicked off with the debut of our digital-event series Little Free Library Unbound. This free, monthly webinar connects stewards, supporters, and book-lovers of all kind to chat about literacy, book-sharing, and more. Special guests have included authors like Kate DiCamillo, Tameka Fryer Brown, and Grace Lin, as well as loads of Little Free Library stewards—like Talena Lachelle Queen, pictured above—giving their best tips on community engagement. Be sure to sign up for the next event on January 13 here!

9. Phenomenal Partnerships: LeBron James Family Foundation and Pasadena Tournament of Roses

Read Across America Day inspired two special Little Free Library book-sharing boxes this year. A little library (pictured left) was unveiled at the LeBron James Family Foundation’s (LJFF) I PROMISE Village, a family-first community that serves as transitional housing for I PROMISE families in Akron, Ohio. The project was a team effort carried out by LJFF, the Little Free Library nonprofit organization, JOANN, and WKYC Studios. The Pasadena Tournament of Roses® also revealed an official Little Free Library in celebration of Read Across America Day. The replica of Tournament House, the headquarters to the Rose Parade® and Rose Bowl Game®, is filled with books for the community to enjoy and provides a space for book-sharing (pictured right).  

8. Little Free Library Week

Did you know many traditional library systems use Little Free Libraries to connect with their communities? During Little Free Library Week, we partnered with the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) to celebrate how “big libraries” utilize “little libraries” to engage readers.

7. 2021 Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement

Little Free Library’s late founder, Todd H. Bol, believed strongly in the power of individuals (and especially Little Free Library stewards) to change the world through acts of kindness. The winners of the 2021 Todd H. Bol Awards for Outstanding Achievement include Sarah Kamya (left), the New York City school counselor on a mission to share diverse books, and Dr. Russell Schnell (right), an atmospheric scientist who brought the first Little Free Library to Antarctica.

6. Read in Color Goes National!

Our Read in Color® initiative distributes diverse books to Little Free Library book-sharing boxes to amplify marginalized voices and increase understanding, empathy, and inclusion. Read in Color launched in Minneapolis last year, and in 2021 expanded to nine additional cities, including Tulsa, Oklahoma; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Ferguson, Missouri; Atlanta; Phoenix; and New York City. More than 100 Read in Color libraries have been established in high-impact areas and 30,000 diverse books have been shared. Help us expand this important initiative further with a donation or by signing the Read in Color pledge.

5. Wind River Reservation Welcomes the World’s 125,000th Little Free Library

A very special Little Free Library arrived at the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming this year. We were thrilled to grant the 125,000th Little Free Library book-sharing box to Wind River through our Impact Library program, which offers Little Free Libraries full of books at no cost to selected applicants. The Wind River Indian Reservation is home to the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho tribes, and the library will provide books by Indigenous authors about Indigenous characters.

4. Little Free Library Scavenger Hunts Around the World

In March and August this year, we worked with Unplugged Collaborative to bring Little Free Library scavenger hunts to neighborhoods around the world. From Fife to Fargo, 60 scavenger hunts took place, with a total of 523 clues and stops. What a great reason to unplug, put down your phone, connect with friends and family—and visit some new Little Free Libraries!

3. In Canada, Stewards Receive 2,500 Giller Prize Books

This fall, Scotiabank collaborated with us to place thousands of novels shortlisted for the prestigious Giller Prize in Little Free Libraries across Canada. Five hundred lucky stewards received book bundles containing the five novels to share in their little libraries. “Placing free, brand new novels in our book boxes nationwide is the perfect way to bring Canadians closer to some of the country’s best storytellers,” said LFL Executive Director Greig Metzger.

2. Good Morning America Introduces Little Free Library in Times Square

Just in time for the holidays, Good Morning America brought a Little Free Library to Times Square in New York City! Filled with books chosen by the show’s anchors Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Michael Strahan, Lara Spencer, and Ginger Zee as their picks of 2021, the library represents the spirit of giving at the end of a challenging year.

1. 250 Million Books Shared!

The first Little Free Library was built in 2009, and today there are more than 138,000 around the world in 112 countries. In our end-of year tally, it’s now estimated that more than 250 million books have circulated through the libraries in our LFL network. In addition, our organization gave away 33,019 books this year through our programs and monthly giveaways for stewards. With book access at the heart of everything we do, we are overjoyed at this number and excited to see it grow. Our vision is a Little Free Library in every community and a book for every reader!

To help launch us into 2022 and share books where they’re needed most, please consider a contribution to the Little Free Library nonprofit organization. Donate today!

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