Tell Me Something Good: Little free library

Local News

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of Syracuse University’s great depository of learning, Bird Library. 

Our story today is about a place that’s just a bit less imposing. You might call this one a “Bird House Library.” 

It’s the latest in a growing trend to bring books to neighborhoods. A Little Free Library in East Syracuse.

Liz Loftus is a retired librarian, and a part-time book seller at Barnes and Noble.  “Our charter is number 11 85 90, which represents the 118-thousand-590th library,” she says.  Liz got her Little Free Library as a birthday present from her husband Ted.  The whole neighborhood on Clark Hill turned out for the grand opening on a beautiful Saturday morning recently, to look at a great new resource for community building.

Liz explained the concept rather simply.  “If you’re in the neighborhood, take a book, bring a book.  And just, if you see it getting empty, help us out.”

Liz filled her Library for the launch with the help of donations from friends and family and her colleagues at Barnes and Noble.  She already has three more boxes for back-up. 

A man named Todd Bol built the very first Little Free Library in Wisconsin to honor his mother in 2009.  Today, just a dozen years later, there are nearly 120,000 Little Free Libraries in all fifty states and over ninety countries around the world.

Tim Fox asked Liz, “When you started picking books for the library, what were you looking for?”  Her response, “Well, you know, I was thinking in terms of it being an actual library.”  She continued, “You know, it’s hard to know who’s going to use it the most, but you’ve got to have a lot of kids books, because they go through them so fast.”

Liz tried to explain what’s helped the concept grow so quickly.  “To know that these books are free, they’re there for the taking…  There’s no obligation.  You don’t even have to bring them back.  You can pass them along and just to have that option, it’s another place to find something to read.”

Before he died of cancer a couple of years ago, Todd Bol estimated he’d helped people read more than 54-million books.  But that’s a story in itself.   (And you can find out more about that story, and how you might write your own chapter, at LittleFreeLibrary.org.)

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