Little Free Library FAQs
Starting a Library
Your community is full of resources. Use them! Contact a local organization who might build a library for you, such as:
- Girl Scout or Boy Scout troops
- Local carpenters or artists
- Schools, churches or community centers
- Rotary clubs, 4-H Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs or Lions Clubs
And don’t count yourself out; you can build one even if you’re not handy! Try re-purposing something that already has a door and space for books inside. Check out this blog post for ideas.
Every city will have different rules. You can apply for permits, variances and approvals but it could take a long time. Watch the video below to learn more, and here are some of the strategies we’ve learned over the years:
- The best strategy is to avoid needing to ask permission. Unless you are “the man” (the city government, for example) that is officially sponsoring the library, pick a spot on private property.
- The larger the municipality, the more difficult approval may be.
- Be considerate of other people’s rights. Don’t put the library where it might block daily activities such as walking, biking, shoveling snow, etc.
- Assure whoever is worried that you have a good steward and lots of people who will look out for it over the long term. The authorities don’t want to have added responsibilities.
- If you have to seek approval from local authorities, it may help to show them an example of amended zoning ordinances from another city that allow Little Free Library book-sharing boxes.
If you design and build your library well—and the books do not just sit inside for months at a time—you shouldn’t have any problems. Make sure your library’s door closes securely; make sure your roof has an overhang to stop water from running down the sides and into the library; and look over our tips for building a weatherproof library on the build page. Keep in mind that Little Free Library started in Wisconsin. It gets very cold and very hot, very wet, windy and buried in snow here … but Little Free Library book exchanges survive.