If you’re lucky, lots of people will use your Little Free Library right from the start. Sometimes, though, it takes weeks or months for people to discover a new Little Library. This is especially true for Libraries in secluded locations or those tucked away on neighborhood cul-de-sacs.
If you’re in the latter situation, then you may need to do some creative outreach to get people to visit your Library! Read on to learn how three stewards found clever ways to engage with their communities and get more Library visitors.
The “What Book Do you Love?” Sidewalk Project
Rebecca Elder, steward of Little Free Library charter #73021, decided to put a bin of sidewalk chalk in her Library one afternoon … and the response she got was quite unexpected. Her idea was simple. She wrote on the sidewalk next to her Library: “What book do you love?” Her neighbors (especially the neighborhood kids) proceeded to fill seven blocks of sidewalk with answers ranging from To Kill a Mockingbird to Pete the Cat.
“My Little Free Library is pretty new and this felt like a sign that my neighborhood loves and values the Library (and reading) as much as I do,” Rebecca said. “I think I’ll probably try to do this every couple of months, so that it stays special and doesn’t become expected. I think the next question might be ‘What’s your favorite word?’ because that always gets very interesting answers.” Not only was this a clever way to encourage people to stop by her Library, but she also learned the exact books that her neighbors would love to find in her Little Library! Now that’s a win-win.
The Summertime Pop-up Library Program
Staff at James A. Foote Elementary School in Lincoln Park, Michigan, were looking for a way to keep kids reading over the summer break. The school’s literacy coach mentioned that she’d read an article about Little Free Libraries and she was hoping to start one at the school. The group decided that they would install three Little Free Libraries that would be central to their pop-up library program. (You can see one of their Little Libraries on our map, charter #71155 in Lincoln Park, MI!)
Steve Massengill was part of the group that created the program, and he shared, “The idea was that at the end of the school year, our students would be sent home with at least two brand-new books for them to read. Inside the books would be a bookmark with the dates of our pop-up library program. At least four times throughout the summer, the students would be invited back to the school to exchange their books for new titles.”
The school used Title I funds to buy books and other necessary supplies. Staff volunteered to supervise the students on the chosen dates when the kids would come back to school, get new books and a sno-cone, and sit and read on the school lawn. “We are hoping the students will not only come on the pop-up dates, but also visit the Little Free Libraries on a regular basis,” Steve said. “We’ve reached out to the community to help us continually supply the Little Libraries with high-interest books for our students and neighbors. So far we have collected over 500 titles with more to come. Our hope is that this is a project the community will value and support. We also hope our young friends will see the value of reading and care for the Little Libraries with us.”
Blind Date with a Book
The Joliet Public Library in Joliet, Montana, maintains five Little Free Libraries in the area. Around the holidays, they decided to do a little something special. “We wrapped new books and put a gift tag on each one that said the genre or age appropriateness of the book. Then we put a few gift-wrapped books in each of our Little Free Libraries,” said Alyson Green, a staff member at Joliet Public Library. “This was our way of sharing the Christmas and holiday joy with our patrons.”
This idea is similar to the popular Blind Date with a Book setup, frequently used by public libraries, bookstores, and Little Free Library stewards, especially around Valentine’s Day! Wrapping up a book and writing some hints about its plot on the cover is a great way to encourage people to open your Library. After all, who can resist a good mystery?
If you want more people to visit your Little Library, we hope you’ll give one of these activities a try! We have many more craft and activity ideas in our blog, including how to run a Little Free Library bike tour and how to create your own Little Free Library sandwich sign. If you don’t have a Library yet, learn how to start one here.