Does Your Church Have a "Little Free Library"?
June 21, 2022
Updated June 23, 2022
8 comments 346 views
I'm curious if any churches have set-up and maintained little free libraries on their lawn? I would love to put two little libraries at my CRC church (one for adults, one for kids) and am curious what your experience has been like.
I imagine many congregants would have books to contribute.
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This is a great idea!
Thanks Michael! I'll keep you posted.
Our church, Living Hope CRC, Orillia, Ontario (Canada) just set up a Little Free Library in mid-May 2022 on the front lawn of the church. We are on a street that gets a lot of walk-by traffic from shoppers and schools, so I'm excited to say it's been very well used right from the start. I would suggest starting with one LFL for all ages, but give the kids books and adult books there own space. Make your LFL bright, colourful and inviting. Be sure to include your congregation in this ministry, so your church takes ownership of it too; invite them to donate books.
We added a prayer loft in the 'attic', where prayer requests can be left in a little locked box, and that has also been a blessing. We have different 'stewards' each month, and they are responsible for stocking it, keeping it tidy, and spending some time on the bench beside the LFL, allowing the Spirit to guide us in striking up conversations with folks. Our focus is that the LFL is a ministry to and for our neighbours.
There are lots of ideas on the littlefreelibrary.org website. I recommend that you register with this non-profit and join their FaceBook page. There is a separate FaceBook page for stewards. Lots of great ideas and encouragement there.
Hope this helps a bit!
Thank you so much for this! These are very helpful suggestions. I like the idea to also include a prayer loft in the attic of the library. Also, having monthly stewards! Did you get your free library through the website? Or did someone build it?
My husband built our LFL, and another lady from our church painted it up pretty. You need to ensure it's waterproof, and a plexi glass 'window' as part of the door is most suitable. Expect it to cost between $400 - $600 to build.
We applied for and received a $500 grant from Classis Toronto, so that really helped us a lot.
Like any kind of "community engagement" activity - determine if it's wanted by the community, if there is someone or organization you can partner with and how it will be sustained. We have something in many of our communities - public libraries! - which are major community building places with way more resources than books. Often their funding is being cut each year and they lack enough volunteers to provide all the services they want. How can a church support them with volunteers and resources or help them make the little free library an extension of themselves? I encourage you to read this article for the pros and cons of these libraries. https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/01/02/question-little-free-libraries/
Many times the little libraries are located in wealthy communities that have plenty of access to books (I think I counted 20+ in one East Grand Rapids neighborhood the last time I visited), without attention they can turn into eye sores, and they often lack the variety of books that might be of interest to that community.
Yes, these little structures are cute but are they serving the intended purpose? Our good ideas can be made better with partnership, community-driven, and sustainable approaches. Find out if neighbors want this, if it already exists and how can you build on it, or other alternatives for the purpose of encouraging reading and engaging. Other ideas could be a book swap between neighbors? A neighborhood book reading and discussion? A contest to see how many books kids (and adults!) can read and give out prizes at the end of the summer (many libraries do this too and would love to see churches help kids read!)? Or a children's book club or evening reading hour? Promoting a great resources like the local library is always a win! And if you don't have a local library - is having access to good books something your community could rally around together?
Hi Staci, we installed one 4 years ago, and are really glad that we did. Our LFL is named Anna; you can see it on the LFL map, Charter # 81332. We are near several condo buildings and not near a public library, so it is a good fit for our neighbourhood. There are so many people that make it a regular stop. One neighbour, not a member of our church (or any other church) has taken up the task of keeping it tidy and well stocked (she was doing that just as I typed this.) Our library has launched many good conversations with people whom we would likely never have met. In the winter, we added a food box. We would like to put in a separate library for kids' books.
Mark, I love the way your community is getting involved in your LFL. That is the hope and prayer for ours as well. We also have thought of adding a food pantry in the future. For now, we're just enjoying the early days of watching the neighbours enjoy it, and share books with each other. We've had some great conversations at the bench already too. Our charter # is 140685.
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