Texas Living

How to Start a Neighborhood Book Box

By Jillian Kring 4.6.21

You may have noticed tiny public bookshelves that resemble birdhouses popping up around Texas neighborhoods. These neighborhood book boxes are public libraries with a simple rule: Take a book, leave a book. A nonprofit organization called Little Free Library is behind this growing trend. Their primary goals are to build community, inspire reading, and expand book access throughout the world.

Here’s how they work, how to start your own, and where you can find other Little Free Libraries.

What Is a Little Free Library?

A Little Free Library is a neighborhood book exchange built and maintained by individuals in the community. Anyone in the community is welcome to take or leave a book. The idea was first engendered by Todd H. Bol, who built the first Little Free Library in 2009 and shortly thereafter founded the nonprofit to encourage others throughout the world to do the same.

neighborhood book box

How to Start a Little Free Library

The Little Free Library website has a variety of resources for building and maintaining your own neighborhood book box. They’ve broken down the process of starting your own library into several straightforward steps.

1. Location: Pick a location in your neighborhood that’s highly visible and accessible to the public — and where you are legally permitted to place it. Little Free Library provides a map of the little libraries around you so you can avoid picking a spot too close to another neighborhood book box.

2. Design: Next, build your library in the selected location. You can either order the official kit or design and create one yourself. If you feel motivated to build your own library but don’t know where to begin, get inspired by Little Free Library’s Instagram page and take a look at all the beautiful creations people have made throughout the world.

3. Register: If you register your library, the organization will add you to their network, enabling readers in your area to locate your book box. Registration includes support, benefits, and an official sign.

Friendly Neighbors

These little libraries are built on neighborly sentiments, their value beyond simply literary treasures. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have chosen to convert their libraries into a sharing-box to share food and other necessities with those who need it. (You can view that map here.)

If you’re looking for the right books to add to the launch of your neighborhood book box, try these Texas storybooks for children.

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