Little Free Libraries was started by Wisconsin residents Todd Bol and Rick Brooks in 2009. These libraries are small boxes of books installed in communities to promote reading. There are over 25,000 Little Free Libraries in 70 countries, said Kris Huson, spokeswoman for Little Free Libraries.
“There are places where free books are hard to access; we want to make sure that there are as many free libraries in these places as possible, so people have access to books,” Huson said.
Little Free Libraries’ sustainability relies on the exchange of books: When someone borrows a book from the library, he or she is supposed to bring at least one book back for exchange.
Between May 2013 and June 2014, the girl scouts collected books from neighborhood houses and schools to compete for the Girl Scout Bronze Award program, said Kristen Zuco, one of the leaders of troop 3064. After someone suggested the idea of Little Free Libraries to them, the troop decided to launch the project in September.
Zuco said the girls spent a weekend building the library boxes by melting the materials down, gluing them, setting them up and painting them.
“Each group painted a little small library with whatever design they came up with,” she said.
Zuco said the girls looked through a few locations in town and reached out to different entities.
“They kind of sent a letter of, ‘If you are interested in having a little free library at your location, email us back,’” she said. “That’s how actually it got to the director of the Chapel Hill library.”
Sites include the Transit Operations Center, Homestead Aquatic Center, South Estes Housing neighborhood and Chapel Hill Community Center.
Susan Brown, director of the Chapel Hill Public Library, helped connect the girls with other town officials to solve some problems, Zuco said. For example, while the four little libraries were installed on town property, the girls were not charged with a $400 building permit fee for each site.
“We kind of recognized that it’s not something we could afford, and she helped us to work with the mayor and the council to allow us to be able to build this without having to submit that kind of building permit application,” Zuco said.
Zuco said each Little Free Library will have a different number of books depending on the size of the library.
“Anywhere between 40 and 60 books, at any given time, can be in the library,” she said.
Zuco said the girl scouts hope the libraries will function for a long time.
“They are in locations where the public will respect the property and not try to do harm to anything, so I think in their minds, the libraries will be there forever,” she said.
Brown said the girls helped as much as they could for every part of the project.
“They are very dedicated, persistent and they have a vision for the project,” Brown said. “My guess is that it will do what the girls set up to do, which is support literacy and support the community in a creative way.”