Including our great (let’s be honest) Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library, there are 46 libraries in our neighborhood! If you’ve seen little (often wood) boxes standing on poles along a residential street somewhere containing books, they are referred to as “Little Free Libraries”: a worldwide movement which started in Hudson, Wisconsin. As of Fall 2016, 50,000 of these little book depositories/lending libraries have sprouted up across the globe.
So how does it work? Some kind individual or organization wants to spread the joy of reading books and increase literacy. So they either buy a pre-made box from the Little Free Library organization that originated the idea, or build one themselves. Books range greatly in subject matter, but the goal is to provide a varied selection of literature for the community. You can take a book, trade, or donate your own books. There is no need to bring back the book you borrowed, but if you have a few to share to keep the book exchange stocked for other neighbors, that’s great.
There are some fantastic structures in Ballard. They range from straightforward and practical, to colorful and whimsical! If you’re interested in finding out where a little free library is near you, or go on your own fun tour to see many of them, here’s a great map. Click on the book icons on the map to see what some of the boxes look like.