Little Free Library

Jan Fowler

is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”; founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court. Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.

Little Free Library

By Jan Fowler

We all yearn for some good news and in times of greatest tragedy we often see humanity at its best. During each day of this worrisome frightening coronavirus pandemic, I make it a point to seek out a bright spot because there is always hope out there.

This week I saw that bright spot:  Assorted canned and packaged food crammed into a stand on a neighborhood street corner with two sticky notes attached that read, Please take what you need.  And use what you take.

The stand was part of a Little Free Library neighborhood book-sharing network established to encourage the love of books and joy of reading, which now appears to be expanding to include food-sharing out of loving concern for our fellow citizens.  Each stand is sponsored, managed and maintained by a volunteer.

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with these Little Free Library freestanding bookstands, generally located curbside and built with a clear window pane displaying a small stack of donated used books inside some are tattered, some brand new.  You are more likely to notice them if you happen to be walking the neighborhood like David and me.  And rather than letting one of our good books go to waste, he and I have occasionally made donations to the collection so they can be shared and enjoyed by others.

Little Free Library is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that was founded in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009 to build community, spark creativity and inspire the joy of books and love of reading.  It has now grown to more than 80,000 worldwide book exchanges.

These Little Libraries exist in all 50 states and in more than 108 countries.  They are overseen by volunteer book lovers called stewards.  And because of these Little Libraries, more than 120 million books have been shared and enjoyed.

They also have been recognized by the National Book Foundation, the Library of Congress and many book study groups.  In addition, they’ve been showcased by high-profile celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg and featured on The Today Show, among many others.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could encourage more book-sharing within our own community?  Readers throughout the country say that Little Free Libraries are for everyone.  You can grab a book that doesn’t ever need to be returned and the books may be enjoyed by all socio-economic backgrounds and reading levels.

Three out of four people report that they’ve read a book that they normally would not have read because of a Little Free Library nearby.  Seventy-three percent of readers say they have met more neighbors because of a Little Free Library.  Also, book-sharing library boxes play an essential role by providing access to books in areas where books may be scarce.

Benefits include supporting literacy, forming partnerships with schools and parents, and establishing contributions to communities.  To learn how to become a registered book steward and purchase a kit for displaying books, visit

Many of us are home dealing with the fear factor and wanting to help others in some way because we’re not through fighting this cruel COVID-19 battle yet. But if you search for good news, you will find it.  The Little Free Library sounds like good news to me, especially for all the children now home from school who are unable to check out books easily.  Besides, it’s always fun to read something new!

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