As we wave goodbye to 2016, we’re enjoying looking back on the highlights and surprises of the year. Here, we give you five of our favorite stories:
On May 21, eight thousand people gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to celebrate the joy of sharing books at the first-ever Little Free Library Festival. It was a magical and meaningful day: 104 Libraries were built by attendees and local law enforcement, thousands of free books were given away or exchanged at the giant book swap, and attendees enjoyed a variety of book-themed activities. (Did we mention the literary costume contest for dogs?) If you couldn’t be there, you can watch a video of the highlights here!
This year, Little Free Library founder and executive director Todd H. Bol loaded up the Little Free Library trailer and took two major road trips: one through Texas, and one that meandered from Alabama to Washington D.C. His Texas tour allowed him to visit cities including Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and more, where he met with stewards like Girl Scout Elizabeth Longo, who built ten Little Free Libraries for her Girl Scout Gold Award. On his Alabama to Washington, D.C. tour, Todd presented several important civil rights institutions with our Peace Pole Library, which displays the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in more than eighty languages. The trip culminated at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
At Little Free Library, we’re dedicated to increasing book access where it matters most. That’s why, this year, we revamped our philanthropic program and developed the Impact Fund. Through the Impact Fund, we are able to provide no-cost Little Free Libraries to applicants who believe sharing books and building community can make a difference in their neighborhoods. Recent recipients include a family in Illinois who is committed to “rebuilding a broken city one block at a time” and a vice-principal of a school in a Georgia town where thirty percent of the residents cannot read. Check our website often to see where we’ve donated Impact Fund Libraries so far, and to find out how you can help.
We were thrilled to learn that Whoopi Goldberg loves Little Free Libraries! The television host included Little Free Libraries at the top of her list of “Whoopi Goldberg’s Favorite Things” on the November 14 episode of The View. Even better, the five Little Libraries featured on The View were shipped to our newest Impact Fund Library recipients. In addition, every member of the audience got a copy of The Little Free Library Book and the Kids Around the World coloring book. What does Whoopi say about starting or using a Little Free Library? “It’s a wonderful thing to do!”
In November, we reached a major milestone: The 50,000th Little Free Library was established! Little Free Library No. 50,000 has been placed at the Illumination Foundation, a homeless shelter in Santa Ana, California, where there is only one public library and no bookstores for more than 335,000 residents. Todd Bol was in attendance to attach Charter Sign #50,000 on the Little Free Library, celebrate the day, and start dreaming about what the next 50,000 Little Free Libraries can accomplish for neighborhoods around the world.
These are just a handful of the exciting things that have happened in 2016. As always, we are grateful to share the year with you, our Little Free Library stewards, patrons, and friends, who make this all possible. Here’s to 2017!