Truly DIY libraries

Little Free Library

A Little Free Library made from a newspaper box in Seattle. Photo by Josh Larios.

Lots of stories have been popping up lately about the Little Free Library movement.

Back in March, Lane Wilkinson wrote a blog post on Sense and Reference about what institutional libraries can learn from these DIY libraries.

More recently, my dad shared an article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Little Free Libraries in the Atlanta area.

I first stumbled across a DIY library in a park in Madrid about 10 years ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of it, but it was a small stone structure with a shelf for books.

Earlier this week, BBC News posted an article about a rather large free library run out of a man’s house in Manila.

Clearly, in the Manila case, the DIY library is helping to fulfill a need that is not filled by institutions. Altanta is a very different case, though. Are DIY libraries popping up there because the public library system isn’t fulfilling people’s needs? Or are people just looking for something more local and more social than their local branch library? Or, perhaps, do people harbor a secret desire to be librarians?

One thing is clear: people like to share books.


5 thoughts on “Truly DIY libraries

  1. Another reason why free libraries my be popular is that regular libraries require IDs and addresses and charge fines and keep records and all that. Some people just want a book, they don’t want you to build a dossier on them. Or they don’t have the ID or money for fines etc.

  2. That’s a good point. Having to produce ID can be an obstacle. Many people don’t realize that public libraries do not build a dossier on them. Yes, most charge fines on overdue books. But as soon as you return the book, there should not be any record linking you to that book. And librarians will go to great lengths to avoid turning over library records to anyone. Patron privacy and confidentiality is part of our code of ethics.

  3. In the case of Atlanta, my hunch is that people are looking for something “more local and more social.” The same impulse that leads to book discussion groups held in people’s houses. At least in Gwinnett County, we have a very good public library system (despite budget slashing) with many convenient locations.

  4. I’m glad to hear the public library system is alive and well in Gwinnett County! I thought about book groups as I was writing this. Your hunch seems right to me.

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