Sharing Books and Building Communities Through Little Free Libraries
** To celebrate National Library Week, OGTV is re-sharing this story about an idea that has sparked the love of books for millions readers around the world. **
When Todd Bol's mother died in 2009, he wanted to honor her in a special way. She was a dedicated teacher and an avid reader, so Todd built a small model of a one room schoolhouse, filled it with books and put it in the front yard of his home in Hudson, Wisconsin. His neighbors loved what he'd done, so he kept doing it.
When Todd saw how much of a positive impact this had on his community, he decided to keep it going. Advocates in other towns picked up on the idea and Little Free Libraries began to expand across the country. There are now over 75,000 of them, in all 50 states, and even in 85 countries across the world.
Little Free Libraries come in all shapes — as boxcars, birdfeeders and barns; spaceships, robots and roosters; even as replicas of the houses they stand in front of. People set up libraries on their front lawns, outside of local business and even in hospitals. It brings people together and it promotes a real sense of community through education and reading. People who might not otherwise have access to books (families in temporary shelters, people in lower income households, etc.) now have an entire network of libraries that they can interact with.
Todd may have started small but his idea has acquired a momentum all its own. If one uses a conservative estimate of 2 books exchanged per day in each library, this translates to over 50 million books a year that get passed in and out of these little boxes, making them the largest library system in the country. Todd believes that there are few limits on what the Little Free Libraries can ultimately achieve and was not shy about setting a lofty goal. "Our job is to make sure that 90% of the world's population reads above the minimum reading standard." Meeting this goal would require one Little Free Library for every 300 people around the world, which means Todd and his supporters only have 24.5 million specialty boxes left to build. What a great legacy!
FOOTNOTE: Todd Bol died of Pancreatic Cancer in August, 2018. This fond remembrance was included in his New York Times obituary. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/23/obituaries/todd-bol-dead.html
"Todd created this beautiful, living, breathing movement of literacy and community that resonated from that very first Little Free Library all the way to today," Margret Aldrich, the author of "The Little Free Library Book" (2015), said in an interview.
"He was a true believer in the power of one person to make a difference," she said. "And he certainly did."
Amen to that. OnlyGood TV salutes the good Todd Bol achieved through his vision of making it easier for people to read and share books all around the world.
Learn more at: https://littlefreelibrary.org/
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