little free library boat

All over the city of Los Angeles, one can find cute little neighborhood libraries the size of birdhouses or dollhouses. These tiny structures are usually made of wood, painted brightly and often decorated wildly, to draw the attention of bookworms looking for a good read or wanting to drop off some books for others to enjoy. Some have themes, some have little doors, and others feature actual glass windows. The lil libraries have one thing in common: they are free. And they are awesome.

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little free library design

Many of these lilliputian local libraries are part of the Little Free Library book exchange movement, which has more 32,000 registered Little Free Libraries in all 50 states and 70 countries around the world. Others were simply inspired by the idea to promote literacy and build a little library in front of their home – but they are not part of the network.

quirky DIY little free library

Turns out the project is not a local L.A. movement, but was launched in Hudson, Wisconsin, in 2009, when Todd Bol set one up in his front yard as a tribute to his mom, an avid reader – to the delight of friends and neighbors. Bol’s DIY book box caught the attention of Rick Brooks, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And so the social movement started. Since 2012, Little Free Library has operated as a nonprofit corporation with a board of directors and tax exempt status. They have even surpassed philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s total of 2,509 libraries!

little free library indoors

They key is “free” and boils down to this: “take a book, leave a book.”

Inspired to build your own? The Little Free Library website offers all the information you need on all aspects of creating a weatherproof mini library, from materials to permits to step-by-step building and installation steps. The fun is in the making, but one can also buy one, whether unfinished, stained or already painted. If you want yours to be an official Free Little library, you will need the official sign, number and listing from the company.

little free library legos

As you can see, designs are endless. One can choose a theme like Lego or Star Wars, go for something quaint and old-fashioned as well as uber-modern and sleek. Your imagination is the limit (and perhaps city or neighborhood ordinances in your area, so be sure to check).

“Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. Through Little Free Library book exchanges, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.”

star wars little free library

All images from, where you will find plentiful inspiration for DYI.