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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Little Free Libraries bring neighbors together over love of reading

The Little Free Library on Ivydale Drive in Sleepy Hollow Woods.
If some Annandale residents need a good book to relax with at the pool, all they need to do is walk over to a neighbor’s house and see what’s in the “Little Free Library” on the front lawn.

Little Free Libraries are cute little boxes full of books on a post installed on a public street. People are welcome to borrow a book and leave another. There’s no charge and you don’t need a library card.

This little box on Southampton Drive is full of books.
There’s one on the corner of Canterbury Drive and Southampton Drive in Annandale with some really good books – Middlesex, The Red Tent, and The Kite Runner, for example – plus a variety of thrillers and mysteries. The Little Free Library in front of Mason Crest Elementary School is stocked with children’s books.

There’s another one on Ivydale Drive put up by Karla Haworth to honor her mother. The box, decorated like an apple, has a sign stating it’s “dedicated in loving memory of Dolores Brod Haworth, 1938-2014, teacher, traveler, pianist, lifelong learner, and avid reader.”

According to Kristine Huson, communications director of Little Free Libraries Ltd., there are five Little Free Libraries in Annandale, seven in Falls Church, and 25 in Arlington registered with the organization. There are likely to be many more, though, that aren’t officially registered.

The Little Free Library at Mason Crest Elementary School.
The first one was created by Todd Bol, who built a model of a one-room schoolhouse on a post in his front yard in Hudson, Wis., in 2009, and filled it with books offered free to the public. His neighbors and friends began requesting the little boxes, and Rick Brooks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison helped turn the concept into a grassroots movement.

The Little Free Library nonprofit organization was established in 2012. “Our mission is to build a love of reading and community through book sharing,” says Huson.

An unanticipated benefit was the opportunity for neighbors to connect with one another, especially when no one hangs out on the front porch any more. Huson has heard from people who met more neighbors within one week of installing a Little Free Library than in the past 10 years. 

The original goal was to have 2,509 Little Free Libraries, matching the number of libraries supported by Andrew Carnegie in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, there are about 28,000 Little Free Libraries across the world.

If you want to install your own Little Free Library, the organization’s website has building instructions, a catalog of pre-made little libraries, and lots of other resources.


  1. Charming, what a nice contrast to Culmore.

  2. We have one of these in the Raymondale neighborhood too.

  3. I saw this Little Library in the City of Falls Church. I am so happy to see other locations in the area.