Little Free Library’s Top 10 Stories of 2023

By Sarah Nelson

What a year! 2023 gave us plenty of reasons to celebrate here at Little Free Library. We’re so grateful for all of you who continue to support us on our journey to expand book access, build community, and inspire readers. Here are a few of our favorite stories from 2023:

10. Tekne Award

The Little Free Library mobile app is getting accolades! We were thrilled to receive a Tekne Award from the Minnesota Technology Association. The awards recognize the most innovative and impactful individuals, organizations, and companies in Minnesota’s technology community. Little Free Library and the Jed Mahonis Group (JMG) were awarded the Excellence in Partnership award for the Little Free Library mobile app.

9. Good Morning America

It was a great year to continue our partnership with Good Morning America (GMA) to share their book club selections with Little Free Library stewards across the U.S. and Canada! Each month, registered stewards can apply to win copies of the newest GMA book club pick. In 2023, Little Free Library stewards received 36,000 books through our GMA partnership!

8. Todd H. Bol Awards

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. This year we awarded the Todd H. Bol Awards to six individuals/organizations who are doing incredible work in their communities through their Little Free Library book-sharing boxes.

7. World Literacy Summit

Little Free Library Executive Director Greig Metzger attended the World Literacy Summit 2023 in Oxford, England, where he had a chance to sit on a panel called The Joy of Reading. We were honored to win the 2020 World Literacy Award, but the pandemic prevented us from attending, so it was great to attend this year.

6. Sun-Maid and ABCmouse

To kick off back-to-school season, we partnered with Sun-Maid and ABCmouse to expand access to literacy resources. Sun-Maid will sponsor 100 Little Free Library book-sharing boxes filled with ABCmouse books to be placed across the U.S.

5. Inaugural Read in Color Cohort

This year we transitioned our Read in Color diverse books program to a cohort model. Twice a year, we open applications to organizations interested in participating in a Read in Color cohort. A selection committee of Little Free Library staff and stakeholders review applications and invite the strongest applicants to participate in a six-month cohort experience. The three organizations selected for the Fall 2023 cohort were The Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools in Baltimore, 904WARD in Jacksonville, and Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan.

4. National Education Association Build Event

This year we hosted our biggest Little Free Library build event yet with the National Education Associate (NEA)! As part of the partnership, we attended NEA’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly in Orlando and assisted educators in attendance with building and decorating Little Free Libraries that were later filled with banned books and sent home with Florida delegates.

3. Banned Books

It was an important year in the fight against book bans! Expanding access to books is at the heart of our mission, and the rise of book bans in America goes against our organization’s core values. This year we worked with The Unbanned Book Club, the Banned Books Week Coalition, the American Library Association, HarperCollins Children’s Books, and Penguin Random House to protect the freedom to read. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz even unveiled the first ever Little Free Library in the State Capitol and encouraged Minnesotans to come fill it with banned books.

2. Indigenous Library Program Launch

In June we were ecstatic to launch the Indigenous Library Program, which grants Little Free Library boxes and books where needed most in Indigenous communities and on tribal lands in the United States and Canada. As part of the program’s launch, we hung a Dakota land map created by local Native American artist Marlena Myles in the entryway of our St. Paul office. Pictured above is an Indigenous Library Program launch event at the Native American Community Clinic in Minneapolis.

1. Little Free Library Week

This year we celebrated the first-ever Little Free Library Week! Little Free Library became a nonprofit on May 17, 2012, launching our journey to make books accessible to everyone. We turned our organization’s nonprofit birthday into a week-long celebration in May. Stay tuned as we get ready to celebrate the second annual Little Free Library Week in May 2024!

To help launch us into 2024 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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