Lincoln has always been a city that encouraged community involvement through literature. From summer reading programs at the public libraries to One Book, One Lincoln, the city thrives in the works of great writers. A more recent trend catching the attention of the nation are Little Free Libraries. Beginning in the early 2000s, Tedd Bol, of Wisconsin, founded the nonprofit organization Little Free Library. The aim of this organization is to promote literacy in communities by encouraging people to build birdhouse-like libraries on their properties. After being stocked with books, community members are encouraged to browse the shelves of these boxes to pick up a book in exchange for another. After a few years, the sensation swept its way to Lincoln, Nebraska where there are now over 50 Little Free Libraries (LFL) scattered across the city.
“It’s like giving life to books that otherwise might just be sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust.” says Sarah Wheeler, a Lincoln resident. She continues, “It’s getting to put an adventure you have been on into someone else’s hands to enjoy while picking up a new mystery for yourself to discover.” These sentiments are echoed across every type of person Lincoln has to offer.
Each owner of a Little Free Library who registers with the nationwide nonprofit receives a spot in the national index as well as a sign to hang on their library. Owners take books from their own collections or receive books by donation to start the “Take a Book, Leave a Book” trade. Some libraries are host to guest logs in which participants in the exchanges express a great deal of gratitude for the opportunity to experience new literature. Often they write about how thankful they are to find books for all ages. Individuals praise the concept of sharing not only meaningful books, but also experiences.
“For me it’s the people I’ve met. From neighbors wanting to talk to me about my LFL to meeting other LFL stewards in Lincoln,” states Bob Dipaolo. “I never would have had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people in person & online if not for my Little Free Library. Little Free Libraries are SO much more than the books. It’s community.”