LFLs usually take the shape of mailboxes or birdhouses and are often placed in areas with high foot traffic.
The LFL mission is to inspire a love of reading and spark creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world, LFL Program Manager Margret Aldrich said.
“People really want to build a community where they live and give back, and this is a way to do it and at the same time create book access and build a culture of reading,” she said.
The nonprofit’s founder, Todd Bol, built the first LFL in 2009 in memory of his mother, who was a teacher and lifelong reader. After seeing the community’s positive response, Bol decided to start the nonprofit in 2012. Now there are more than 80,000 LFLs worldwide in 50 states and 95 countries, including at least 12 registered in McKinney.
Amanda Lunn, a McKinney resident and librarian of 16 years, said she built her little free library with her family.
“[LFLs] are so important,” Lunn said. “There is the obvious importance of making books more readily available to kids, especially in the summertime, to help avoid that summer slide in reading. While the public library is a great place to get books, moms and dads don’t always have time to bring kids to the library, so this is another way to get books in their kids’ hands.”
Lunn said stewarding an LFL is a way to use her knowledge as a librarian to spread love and kindness and serve the community. Lunn said she checks her LFL every day to see which books have been “checked out” or arrived.
“Our LFL has given us a unique connection to our neighborhood, which can be hard to find in many suburban areas like ours these days,” Lunn said.
LFLs can be placed anywhere, including playgrounds, sidewalks, front yards and even inside businesses.
For example, in 2015, McKinney Pediatrics installed an LFL inside its waiting room.
“We decided to become LFL stewards because we wanted to make sure our patients had more access to books,” said J.J. Vernier, McKinney Pediatrics’ LFL steward. “We believe that LFL[s] provide a wonderful service to the community by allowing people to access books for free and be able to share books through donation to the LFL.”
Carrie Rhodes, a former elementary school librarian and McKinney resident, said she was gifted her LFL two years ago. Rhodes’ LFL is placed along a path en route to her neighborhood pool.
“Little Free Libraries remind us that so many of us in our community are fellow readers and book lovers,” Rhodes said. “These quirky little book houses just make you happy when you see one.”
For more information or to register an LFL, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org.