New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

Little Free Libraries in NYS

You have probably seen these little colorful boxes popping up around your town. Your library may even sponsor one! Whether you are trying to extend your reach beyond library doors or are just looking for a fun staff project, creating a Little Free Library may be the perfect venture!

Below you will find just a few examples of Little Free Libraires that have sprouted across NYS.

Baldwinsville Public Library

Submitted by Meg Vanpatten

Why did your library decided to create your own Little Free Library?
I liked the idea of having a Little Free Library and I was at a meeting at Gaylord Brothers, which is not far from Bville, and saw the kit that they sell.  When I looked and saw the rectangular shape and I thought that would work for our building.  I then put out the word about what I wanted and someone suggested Abe.  He jumped right in and ran with it.  The library's name is over the arch of the front entrance and when Abe could not find letters that small he cut them out of wood.

Have you noticed any downsides that came along with your Little Free Library?
We had to make a couple of minor repairs, someone broke the Plexiglas on one of the doors during the winter at the same time they broke a window in the visitor's center.  Someone noticed it and the custodian fixed it right away.  He also had to replace one of the door knobs.  Other than that we have not had any issues with it and it has been in place for about 3 years now.  

Do you have any tips for libraries that would like to have their own Little Free Library?
 Abe constructed it out of PVC and roof shingles so it is sturdy and holds up well to the weather.  Recruiting the right volunteers is key.  For the actual construction be sure to get someone who does a lot of handyman type things,  Abe has an extensive workshop where he does a lot of building construction for himself, his church and other groups.  My secretary culls our donations for good quality books to place in the LFL.  Have staff and or volunteers check it on a regular basis, that is how we keep it looking good and fresh.   They look over the books that others have left and remove any that are in cruddy condition so that it continues to look inviting.  The key thing is to not put it in place and forget it, which does sometimes happen.  Also, some that I have seen are quite small.  Ours is a nice size that allows for more variety, in particular one of the three bays is just for children's books.   Wherever you want to place it be sure you clear it with the right places.  I had talked to the Village thinking it was their land and it turned out to be NYS Canal Corporation land.  The advantage of finding that out from the Village engineer was that he volunteered to secure the permission for me. Thus he knew the right person to talk too at the Canal Corp.  Also, that person knew that it was not just some fly-by-night idea and that it would be a positive  additon.  He was also able to show the Canal Corp pictures of what it was going to look like when completed.

"I wanted one that looked like the actual library.  A former library board member and fellow Rotarian designed and built it in his basement.  With the help of a local business and neighbors it was transported to the site where Rotarians did the installation.  A library patron did the end sign and we now have the little registration sign hanging down on the front.  The bookplate is placed on any books that we put in the LFL.  I selected the location because it is across a walking path from the Bville Visitor's Center.  The walking path and the fact that many boats tie up at that location were the key points for the location, the lock is a few yards away and it is the second busiest lock on the NYS canal system.  Staff and volunteers check it often to keep it fresh and they do see books placed by other folks in addition to what we put in it.  We have kids books as well as adult books and our program brochures.   

"It was a great co-operative project.  I came up with the idea, Abe did the construction, the Friends paid for the materials, Rotary did the install, a local merchant loaned his truck for transport.  The Village Engineer looked at where I wanted it located, the spot was fine with him but he said it was Canal Corp property so he talked to the Canal Corp for me and obtained the permission.  Volunteers and staff keep it stocked and cleaned. People seem to love it and we get lots of compliments."


Check out this Little Free Library's story on the local Syracuse news!


RCS Community Library

Submiteed by Judith Wines

Why did your library decided to create your own Little Free Library?
We decided to install four little free libraries in our district to address the challenge posed by our geographically far-flung population. The RCS Community Library serves 6 distinct population centers in a school district that crosses county lines.

Have you noticed any downsides that came along with your Little Free Library?
We were concerned about the possibility that Library books might show up in the LFLs. We did not brand them with the Library's logo or name and,  six months in, have not found this to be a problem at all. Our biggest challenge has been keeping the one located at one of our local elementary schools stocked. It has been a bit too popular and while the kids have enthusiastically taken books, they are not as quick to bring books in so we often find it in need of restocking.

Do you have any tips for libraries that would like to have their own Little Free Library?
We have found LFLs to be an easy way to extend one kind of service to areas far from the Library. We readily found a sponsor who paid for the materials, we partnered with the high school tech club, who built the LFLs, and found a contractor who donated the labor for the installation, so there was no cost to our regular budget. LFLs are a Feel good project and we got some good press and lots of positive comments when they were unveilled.


Tompkins County Public Library

Submitted by Carrie Wheeler-Carmenatty

Why did your library decided to create your own Little Free Library?
Creating Little Free Libraries has been a long-term goal of the Tompkins County Public Library. As we continue to look at expanding our programs and services through outreach and off-site opportunities, this seemed like a tremendous tool for making the resources of our incredible library even more accessible to members of our community.

Have you noticed any downsides that came along with your Little Free Library?
Our LFL’s were unveiled during a public celebration on April 22, and to-date the project has been an incredible success. The original titles are being borrowed regularly, and new titles continue to be added.  It has truly been a wonderful experience, and we are delighted to be able to meet readers where they are and to share the joy of reading!

Do you have any tips for libraries that would like to have their own Little Free Library?
We partnered with the Southside Community Center of Ithaca, an organization committed to affirming, empowering and fostering the development of self-pride among the African American citizens of the greater Ithaca area. During the planning stage of our project, we recognized that the Southside community would have a greater investment in and appreciation for  the LFLs if they were given the opportunity to participate in the process. To make this possible, we provided the Community Center with the unfinished LFLs and an assortment of art supplies, and children from the Center’s after-school program worked, under the supervision of artist Nydia Blas, to create our incredible finished Little Free Libraries. This helped to generate excitement and interest and has undoubtedly resulted in increased usage.

"We partnered with Southside Community Center, a historical organization in our community, to place two Little Free Libraries (photos attached)—one for adults and one for youth.  This was a collaborative project where the Library identified a donor to fund the purchase of the two buildings and the library provided the books. Southside, through our Community Arts Partnership, received a grant to have an artist work with children to paint the LFLs. On their “Day of Action,” the director of Southside and I dedicated them and they have been busy ever since. The Library Volunteer Coordinator works with the program director at Southside for our volunteers to refresh and update the collections. This has been a great community collaboration on many fronts."