Little Free Library book exchange

I have a confession to make.

Are you ready?

OK, here it is: I run a community book exchange, called a Little Free Library.

These book exchanges are part of a global network that promotes literacy in local communities. The Little Free Library organisation began in Wisconsin, USA (I used to live there!) and it is one of these small book exchanges that I run in my community.

Little Free Library

I’m a member of my parish council, and we successfully applied for a grant from West Oxfordshire District Council to set up our own Little Free Library. I know that there is some controversy among some professional librarians who view these little boxes as offensive, for using the term “library” incorrectly. Although ours is officially referred to as a Little Free Library, the correct term ought to be a community book exchange.

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Gratuitous snow shot

Free Book Exchange

Here’s how it works; anyone is welcome to give or take books as they wish, and they don’t have to bring them back. There is no permanent collection of books, rather all the books belong to the community and they come and go as people take them. It is a great way to people to share used books that they no longer want, and to swap them for new ones. We have a shelf specifically for children’s books, and one for adults.

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Successful Project

We launched our book exchange in September 2015 and it has been a huge success. It is used every day by all age groups in our community. As a result, I have met and got to know more people in my community than I otherwise would have done, and it has become an asset  in our village that has no amenities other than a school, church, village hall and a pub (our mobile library service was scrapped in 2016 due to government funding cuts).

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Community Asset

I am all about communities, and how libraries connect them together. Although in no way a substitute for a real local library, these small book exchanges are a great way for neighbourhoods to share used books and to foster a greater sense of community. It has been nothing but a positive experience, and the project has been overwhelmingly embraced by my community.

10 comments

  1. Matthew, I contribute to a number of ” free libraries” here. I prefer to share my books with others. I take books to the VFW on Afton Road, Caratas on Prairie, and I drop a box at Goodwill and Salvation Army. I swap books with friends and relatives, even strangers. Where I finish reading a book, I like to leave it on a table, so that someone else may pick it up and take it home to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How awesome! There are several Little Free Libraries in the town I live in and we thinking about setting up in front of my ex’s house as it is across the street from an elementary school. Have you had any problems with vandalism? A few in our town had doors taken off, glass broken and one knocked over. Sad because it is useful to so many people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there! No, we haven’t had any issues like those. There used to be a notebook inside for people to write comments in, and a few times teenagers had written inappropriate messages in it so I removed it, but otherwise we have been lucky.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As an avid reader I was so excited when my neighborhood got its own Little Free Library. I contribute books to it all the time. One thing I’ve found though, is that many people use it as a way to get rid of their “junk” book; DIY kitchen remodeling, Ferberizing your baby, Susie Orman…😂

    Liked by 1 person

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