Want to nurture the relationship between your rental property and the rest of the block and promote literacy at the same time?
The Little Free Library Project might be just the thing you’re looking for. Little Free Libraries (LFL) are popping up all over the country – and even as far away as Germany, Ghana and Afghanistan.
In the spirit of “take a penny, leave a penny,” LFLs house books that anyone can browse or borrow or keep for free. There’s no recordkeeping, and no obligation to return the books — ever. Of course, the system depends upon folks replenishing the stock by donating books they no longer want from their own collections.
A typical LFL is a simple cabinet-type box decorated and customized as the builder sees fit and outfitted with a sturdy roof and door to protect books from the elements.
There’s one in front of my friend Sage’s house that I enjoy browsing. But it’s the act of donating that thrills me. Without a librarian on hand, adding books to the collection feels somehow impish and covert. The last time I made a drop at the box, I did so under cover of darkness. In went the Adventures of Tom Sawyer in paperback, along with a handful of health and wellness books. With my trench coat pulled tight, I quickly made my way back to the car and drove off.
A small library that operates on honesty and sharing amongst neighbors is close kin to the principles of a community garden, which is why our neighborhood community garden is kicking around the idea of installing an LFL featuring gardening books. And personally, I’ve got plans to build one for my own boulevard that houses children’s books with the long-range goal of organizing and hosting a weekly reading party for neighborhood kids on my front lawn.
Consider the positive impact of a Little Free Library:
- Team Building: What’s wrong with a little one-on-one time with a tenant? Working on a small project together can go a long way in nurturing your relationship. Think of it as a team-building exercise that helps foster respect and trust between you and tenants. Or, see if your local recreation center is interested in getting kids together to work on the project with you.
- Improved Quality of Life: Even a small pebble creates ripples in the water. Little Free Libraries have a subtle power similar to a garden. Both are unobtrusive, but their message is loud and clear: “This is a healthy environment. Please, come and enjoy!”
- Community Bridging: Let’s face it: Tenants can sometimes feel removed from their communities. At times, it’s the tenants who don’t engage; other times, the community fails to reach out. An inclusive LFL connects your tenants and your property to the larger community.
- Opportunity to Reuse: In the dawning era of electronic readers and e-books, old books aren’t exactly filling up their dance cards. Give them a place to go to be celebrated again. You can even designate a theme for your LFL: home improvement, gardening, children’s books, teen books, fiction or travel.
- Increased Literacy: By making books more accessible, you’re encouraging literacy. My neighborhood LFL even provides literacy brochures from the local public library to reach out to those who need support.
- Indirect Marketing: Adding a Little Free Library to your rental property gets you on the map — literally. Inclusion in the global LFL map can potentially increase traffic to your property and sends a strong message to potential tenants about your business and community values.
Little Free Libraries offer a simple, inexpensive opportunity to bring people together, enhance quality of life and keep old books circulating.
Have you encountered a Little Free Library in your neck of the woods?