Posts Tagged library

Celebrating Little Free Libraries and Their Founder

You’ve seen them, right? Little boxes on poles, filled with books, and standing in the most unexpected places.

Brunswick, ME has a Little Free Library down the street from the Brunswick Inn.

The Little Free Library movement began just nine years ago in Hudson, Wisconsin when founder Todd Bol crafted the first book box from an old door. Less than a decade later, there are more than 75, 000 Little Free Libraries in 88 countries.

Of course, Bol’s vision had everything to do with books and reading, but what many don’t know is that building a sense of community was Bol’s ultimate goal. Connecting people to books is one thing. Connecting people to people through books is what makes each Little Free Library so very special.

Ashlyn doesn’t wait to get home to start reading. The Little Free Library in Monroe, Indiana is one of her favorite places to visit.

Last week, Todd Bol died following a very brief illness. He leaves behind a successful non-profit organization that employs 13 people and has more than 75,000 volunteer stewards who maintain the Little Free Libraries around the world.  Author Miranda Paul and illustrator John Parra have been working on a picture book about Bol and his Little Free Library movement. The book is titled “Little Libraries, Big Heroes,” and will be released in 2019.

Listen to Miranda discuss the upcoming book and Bol’s legacy on NPR’s All Things Considered.


Little Free Libraries have sprouted up everywhere. They can be found in parks, neighborhoods, outside of businesses and on country roads. Authors Sherri Duskey Rinker and Jane Yolen have placed them in front of their homes.

One day, Sherri’s neighbor called and told her to grab her camera and look at what was happening outside. Sherri snapped this picture.

THIS is exactly what Todd Bol envisioned. Not book boxes on sticks. Hubs of community, sharing, reading, memory-making.


This Little Free Library stands outside the Exploration Station at Perry Farm Park in Bourbonnais, Illinois.


Recently, my daughter discovered a Little Free Library near her college campus in Illinois. On a rainy day, she placed copies of my books inside, snuggled next to Sharon Creech’s Heartbeat. Knowing that a young reader could wander by and find a story to enjoy there made my day.


The Little Free Library at Phoenix Farm, the home of author Jane Yolen.

At some time, I’d like to place a Little Free Library myself. I live on a sprawling, working farm, so my own property would only attract cattle and hogs. I will think of the perfect spot and I’ll carry on Todd Bol’s amazing legacy by signing up to become a Little Free Library steward. You can, as well, by clicking here.

Until then, I’ve resolved to keeping a box of books in my trunk. I won’t pass a Little Free Library without adding my contribution, in memory of and in celebration of Todd Bol.

Rethinking a Small School Library

Three years ago, I retired from the small independent school where I’d worked for twelve years. The last ten I spent getting my library certification, while building the library and library programming there.
It was hard to leave but time to go, with family needs and the publishing company left to me by my Dad calling on my time and my heart.
But that library led me to my true calling, I believe, and they really never got rid of me, once I was able to go back as a sub the past two years. I’d shelve books and exclaim over the new acquisitions, and happily talk books with the kids (and teachers!) in the hallway and classroom.
Three years later, I have the opportunity to be a part of the school improvement plan in ways none of us could have imagined all those years ago, when I was growing a library from shelves full of used books and a room full of promise.
While others prepare to deliver curriculum in the library, I am redesigning the collection for a move to new teaching spaces after this coming school year.
The first job is a total weed of the collection, something which can never happen completely while also fulfilling a teaching and duty schedule. Over the years, this task has grown to somewhat daunting proportions.
One could say that moving a school from two buildings to one is a sad thing, that it is a downsizing of the program. Really, though, this is a right-sizing of the program designed to serve this small school population while resources grow.
My job, building a library collection that reflects the mission and vision of the school while it shrinks to fit smaller spaces, is one example of the thoughtful approach to these changes. Our school is authorized for the Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate, serving students grades 6-8. The school is actively pursuing application for the Primary Years Programme, which serves early childhood through middle grade students.
Using best library practices, I’m working to make this the best possible library for our school community. I’m using the following points to approach each book we have in the library.
Does the collection include diverse voices and viewpoints? Do windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors exist in the choices of the books we choose for our students? Could ANY student find themselves reflected somewhere in our library, and could ANY student learn about people with different experiences and viewpoints than their own there?
Did we practice due diligence in examining our personal biases as we decide which books serve our community the very best way? Can we offer teachers and families a wide selection of really great books, including those that exemplify the IB’s ten Learner Profile traits?
Next, I use circulation statistics to inform my decision about a book. If no one has checked out a book that is more than ten years old in the past five years, it’s got to go, unless I happen to know that it a hidden gem no one could find before.
The last gauge I use is age (science, geography and other areas are outdated faster than others). The copyright date is one checkpoint, but smelly books always go(ewww),no matter how special!
Library staff has performed these weeding exercises by section as they were able to in the past, but this move provides great motivation to get the whole job done on the entire library, and I’m making progress. When I’m finished, the remaining collection will fit into the new teaching spaces being designed for them throughout the school, the collection will be accessible to everyone, and the great books that have in some cases been hidden within the vast number of volumes will be visible and ready to share!
It is so exciting to be part of something that will add value to a school so dear to my heart. I’m very happy to back in the bookstacks to be making a difference, also to peek between the covers of favorite middle grade books I recommended or have on my own TBR pile, and to geek out in the land of the well- designed library catalog, one of my weird and wonderful passions.

So, Where Do YOU Write?

I’m a fulltime caregiver these days, but I’m also a writer and an editor. Lately, with the help of a home care companion, I’ve been able to get away a bit more, and sometimes when I get away, I can do my job.

I was remembering the Happy Holidays post here on the Mixed Up Files in December, in which we shared pictures of ourselves doing what we do as writers wherever we do it. That inspired me to take you on a little tour of some of my favorite places to get stuff done.

Many authors I know write in cafes and coffee shops to get away from distractions. I understand this. I’ve tried it. I drink coffee or tea, and that makes me really hungry and I always respect the no outside food rules, and then I end up buying (and eating) something I didn’t need. Ugh.

I often prefer to stay at home, but when I do get away, it usually looks something like this. I almost always end up making my huge bottle of iced ginger tea and grabbing a bag of trail mix and some chocolate, and heading to one of three favorite places.

The Library

Yup. I go to the Library. I’m a retired school librarian, after all; it’s a lot like home anyway. There are three branches of my wonderful regional library almost equidistant from me. Sorry, no photos – I’m not a big selfie-in-the-library taker. But here is a link to their webpage, because all the branches of Sno-Isle Libraries rock.

I love writing in the library. I take my earbuds because it is always noisy – in a good, distracting way. If I can’t get a table, there is always an easy chair somewhere, and I can work in my notebook or edit paper pages. I’ve learned to take multiple tasks with me so that I can pick which one best fits the conditions when I’m there. I used to take just one thing to do, and if it didn’t fit the available opportunities, it felt like time lost.

I know not every writer works this way, but I always have multiple things in my bag besides my current largest project now, and I know that every free moment gives me a chance to make something of whatever I’ve got with me. When I get stuck in the library, I love to wander to the local history shelves and browse for new ideas and information for future stories. This counts as (blissful) work for me!

The Beach

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No computer here. Just paper pages, editing pens, and a secure document box to hold them when it’s windy. Don’t forget the beach towel, and the same big bottle of tea and some snacks.

While I can become “distracted” by birds and boats and all the activity of the world around me, it’s a distraction of peace, and the calm helps me to focus more deeply on my task.

I also take a book and relax with it when the day’s work goal is met.

The Sunroom

On a recent cloudy, drizzly day, I dressed for the weather, packed my lunch in a cooler, and headed… downstairs.

Sometimes when our home care helper comes, I don’t feel like leaving home. Those days, I run away to the basement, to our sun room. This lovely space sat lonely for a time, home for over-wintering plants and HUGE spiders, but I’ve recently reclaimed it. When I walk in, my pulse rate drops and my heart begins to sing.

On a recent day, I raced out between rain showers and planted some starts and worked some garden beds. When it started to rain seriously, I headed inside to add edits to more pages of my manuscript. Doesn’t every author dress like this to write?

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Mostly, these days, I don’t have big blocks of time to lose myself in the work I love so much. I make time, snatch moments, come to the page if even for a few minutes, or paragraphs, wherever I can. When I do have a chance, these are my favorite places to get away and write.

Where do you write? Where do you feel most productive?