The first year of being a Little Free Library volunteer steward is a constant learning experience. How many people will naturally visit your Library? What kind of books are most popular? Will any of the same books be returned? Will people leave notes in a guest book if you put one out?
The only way to answer these questions is to give it a try! Every neighborhood and every steward is different. Mike and Siena Krafick are the stewards of Little Free Library #23263 in Buford, Georgia. After their Library had been running for a year, Mike reached out to us to share what he’d learned. We thought his tips were so helpful that we’re sharing several of them below!
1. When in doubt, stock young adult books. Mike found that YA books moved quickly through his Little Library; both adults and kids snatched them up. So if you’re not sure what to stock right away, give YA books a try.
2. Creativity and spreading the word matter. Unless you’ve installed your Library in a very busy spot that gets lots of natural foot traffic, you will probably need to advertise a bit. Try posting an announcement about your Library on Facebook. If your HOA or neighborhood association have a Facebook page, see if you can post there, too! And if your neighborhood has a newsletter or mailing list, that’s a natural spot to make the announcement. Mike found that his neighborhood used Nextdoor.com, and that was a good place to spread the word about his Little Library.
3. Try an event or two to get people interested in the Library. Mike’s most successful events were “Blind Date with a Book” and his Grand Opening Celebration. If you’re a registered steward, then you know that we highly encourage all stewards to have a Grand Opening Celebration when they first put up their Library. It’s important to encourage a sense of shared ownership among your friends and neighbors. Inviting them to a kickoff event like a Grand Opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony, snacks and activities is a great way to get everyone involved from the start!
4. Add motion-sensor lights. It helps the people sneaking in at 10 p.m. and later see the books inside. (And yes, people do come by that late.)
5. Geocaching will draw people who normally would not stop by. If your Library isn’t getting a lot of visitors, a creative away to attract new folks is by hiding a geocache near or inside your Library.
6. Bookmarks and goodies get taken quickly. Mike found that people in his neighborhood (especially kids!) really loved bookmarks and other small goodies like pencils that he left in the Library. But those items went fast. So if you decide to share “extras” in your Library, don’t expect them to last long.
Now go forth and have fun with your Little Free Library! You may love the suggestions above, or you may find that some of them don’t work for your particular situation. Remember that your Library is a fun experiment, and there is no “right way” to be a steward. If you’re looking for more tips from experienced stewards, check out our steward spotlight series!