15,000 Little Free Libraries and Counting

     Five years ago in Wisconsin, Todd Bol built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former teacher. He installed it on a post in his front yard and filled it with books to give away. It was such a hit with his neighbors that he built and gave away several more, each with a sign that read free books.
    The idea caught on, and Little Free Libraries spread to all 50 states and 40 other countries. The website — littlefreelibrary.org — conservatively estimates the worldwide number registered there at 15,000.
    The website offers plans for building the libraries, and for those who aren’t handy with hammer and saw, pre-built ones for sale. An entertaining feature is the gallery of photos from the U.S. and around the world. Each structure is unique and creative and some are downright whimsical, but Bol’s started it all.
    A former librarian with the Anne Arundel County Public Libraries, I of course wanted one for my own front yard in Arnold. Friend David Eccles offered to build it, complete with a balcony and place for the staff of a miniature American flag. David stained it to match my house and installed it last summer. He also added a charming concrete bench for the comfort of passing readers. Besides Little Free Library, the sign above the balcony says, Take a Book or Leave a Book, and people do both.