Borrow a Book from a Barn

photo courtesy Rachel Norris-Achterberg/SMADC

By Krista Pfunder 

Little red barns are popping up in neighborhoods in Southern Maryland.  The barns are actually Little Free Libraries, containing books highlighting agriculture, from Southern Maryland Meats, a program of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission. Neighbors are encouraged to stop by the little barns to take—and leave—a book. 

“Hopefully, every time someone removes a book from the library, they replace it with another,” says Rachel Norris-Achterberg, special projects coordinator for the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission. “That way there is always a different selection rotating through.” 

The libraries are stocked with books for both adults and children and promote Southern Maryland livestock producers. Each library contains a copy of The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin. The book by Julia Finley Mosca and Daniel Rieley tells the story of the agricultural consultant’s inventions which improved life on farms around the globe. 

Designed as a fun and engaging way to encourage awareness of the importance of agriculture in everyday lives, the plan is to place at least 75 libraries in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince Georges and St. Mary’s counties. 

“There are 44 libraries already installed and an additional 18 sites selected,” Norris-Achterberg says. “Our goal is to install at least 75 libraries, but we have the funds to install up to 100.” 

Easily spotted as small red and white barns, the libraries feature the Southern Maryland Meats logo above the barn doors. 

“We have set up each library with a steward, usually also the host site owner, who maintains the library contents,” Norris-Achterberg says. “They are responsible for stocking it, whether it be through donated books or purchased ones.”  

To suggest future locations or to host a library, contact Norris-Achterberg at 240-528-8850, ext. 306 or via email at [email protected] 

Find a list of current libraries: and search “SMM” under the “Library Name” heading.