Build a book mailbox from scratch

The Little Free Library project arose from a collaboration between Wisconsin natives, Rick Brooks and Todd Bol. Bol built the very first Little Free Library in 2009 as a tribute to his mother, a teacher and lover of books. It was a hit with Bol’s neighbors and friends, so he built several more and gave them away.

Brooks and Bol were inspired by the positive response to the book boxes as well as the gift-sharing of books by community networks, and in 2012 the Little Free Library nonprofit organization was founded, it’s mission to “be a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Libraries.”

Today, there are more than 125,000 Little Free Libraries in more than 100 countries. Forty-two million books are shared each year. Little Free Library book-sharing boxes are playing an essential role by providing 24/7 access to books thereby encouraging a love of reading, especially in areas where books are scarce.

You can build your own community book mailbox as a way to share your love of books and reading with your neighbors, young and old alike. If you want to build a book mailbox, you can find any number of designs on the Little Free Library website, complete with diagrams, photos, and building instructions as well as a list of materials and tips for builders.

Be creative! Paint your book box in your favorite colors; choose your own theme. If you need some inspiration, check out Little Free Library on Pinterest. Make sure to register your box with the Little Free Library worldwide network so that you can legally use the name “Little Free Library.” It’s a one-time cost of $40 to purchase a charter sign.

Share your favorite stories

Building and setting up a Little Free Library is a great way to share the books you love with your friends and neighbors. If yours is a “walking neighborhood” why not try placing it on a main street or public space in your community that gets a lot of foot traffic and is readily accessible.

Get your community involved in the idea of “take a book, leave a book.” Spread the word via social media. Have a little ceremony to kick off your library. The more people in your community that use the library and support it, the better.

Finding new literary adventures

The purpose of building and putting up a book box is to share good books, but it also helps to bring communities together. Anyone can take a book and leave a book, sharing books that they love with their friends and neighbors. 

One of the added benefits of a community book mailbox is finding new books to read. Another good source of new books to read is the American Book Fest, one of the largest mainstream book award competitions in the U.S. American Book Fest features award-winning books from self-published, independent, and mainstream authors.

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