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On the Coast Magazine

Little Free

11/02/2016 06:28AM ● Published by Nancy Babin

Gallery: Little Free Books [1 Image] Click any image to expand.

On the side of the road, in a few of our local neighborhoods, you will find small decorated wooden structures filled to the brim with books.  These structures are called “Little Free Libraries.”  The books located within are free to take for any passerby.

Called a “Global Sensation” by the New York Times, Little Free Libraries were inspired by Andrew Carnegie’s free public libraries, Lutie Sterns traveling little libraries, and local coffee shops’ public shared spaces.  The Little Free Library movement was begun by Todd H. Bol, who had the idea to bring neighborhoods together and encourage literacy.  With humble beginnings in Hudson, Wisconsin four years ago, the movement has spread to every U.S. state and Canadian province.  It is also present in 70 countries around the world.   

Little Free Libraries are run by volunteer stewards, individuals who open up their yard or business front and monitor and stock their libraries.  Some individuals go the extra mile and host event and giveaways. 

On Harlan Avenue in Fort Walton Beach, you will often find stewards Kristine and Josh hosting fun book-based events to promote their little library.  At their recent event, they had a snack table, lemonade, prizes and tons of books to give away.  Their next driveway event will be Saturday, November 12th.  A local author will be present and signing her Christmas book.  Copies of the book and stocking stuffers will be given away to their first 12 families who attend.  

Seven months ago, Kristine and Josh entered a contest to win a little library.  The giveaway was hosted by Stacee and her son, Brody, stewards of the Little Free Library in Mary Esther.  Stacee and Brody’s experience began a year ago after reading about Little Free Libraries online. Brody became interested in stewarding a library, saying, "If we had one of those we could share our books with everybody!" Not long after that, the library was erected and the idea of giving away libraries came to be.  Stacee reached out to friends, and through fundraising they are on their way to completing their mission: to get as many books into the hands of as many children as possible. “There's no better feeling in the world than to be able to share with someone else something that has made such a positive impact in your life, and that's where the idea came from,” Stacee explains.

The area’s newest Little Free Library will be located in downtown Fort Walton Beach at 144 Miracle Strip Pkwy, outside of Young Philosophers Society, a nonprofit enrichment center for children.  

To find out more information about Little Free Libraries and to see if there is one in your area, check out the website

Our local LFLs and their stewards are:

  • 2278 Harlan Ave, FWB – Riggs Family
  • 637 Emerald Lane, FWB – Mack Family
  • 144 Miracle Strip Pkwy, FWB – Young Philosophers Society
  • 300 Cayman Cove, Destin – Destiny Book Club
  • 9575 Navarre Pkwy, Navarre – Mr. Larson
  • 2001 Bob White Ct, Mary Esther – Kimzey Family

Help out your Little Free Libraries by donating to your closest one!  Happy reading!

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Today, Today, Community Young Philosophers Society Little Free Books Karen Reid LFL's Little Free Libraries Todd H. Bol Andrew Carnegie New York Times
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