Small Wonders: 11 Facts About Little Free Libraries

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Less than a decade after the first Little Free Library was built in 2009 and erected in a Hudson, Wisconsin front yard, the simple book-sharing concept has grown into a global movement through which millions of books are shared each year. Today, Little Free Libraries has more than 70,000 sites and can pop up in the most unexpected places. Read on for more facts about Little Free Libraries.

1. THERE IS ONE COLLECTION WITHIN THE WORLD'S LARGEST LIBRARY.


Library of Congress

A Little Free Library stands in the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. In 2015, the Little Free Library nonprofit was recognized by Library of Congress Literacy Awards for “best practices” in creating a community of literacy.

2. YOU'LL HAVE TO PADDLE OVER TO AT LEAST ONE LITTLE FREE LIBRARY LOCATION.


Photo courtesy of The Recorder and Times

On Honey Bee Island, in the St. Lawrence River on the border between Ontario, Canada and New York, boaters can pull up to this dockside Little Free Library and take a book. Made from wood, birch bark, and cedar shakes, it may be the only Little Free Library that is water-access only.

3. ANOTHER COLLECTION HAS ROCK 'N' ROLL TIES.

In Nashville, Tennessee, Jack White’s record label, Third Man Records, and publishing house, Third Man Books, have a Little Free Library out front as a way to share books with visitors, fans, and members of the surrounding community. It’s customized with Third Man’s signature colors: black, yellow, and white.

4. YOU CAN FIND ONE IN MORE THAN 85 COUNTRIES.

Little Free Library in Pakistan
Little Free Library located in Pakistan.
Courtesy of Little Free Library

There are Little Free Libraries on every continent but Antarctica, in dozens of countries from Iceland to Vietnam to Morocco. (See more on this world map.) This Little Free Library in Pakistan is one example of how other countries share books with neighbors.

5. NOT EVERY LITTLE FREE LIBRARY IS STATIONARY.


Photo courtesy of Sally Gore.

An enthusiastic reader and bike rider in Worcester, Massachusetts, has a Little Free Library on the back of a three-wheeled bike. This bicycle bookmobile is filled with free books for neighbors to share—wherever they might be found.

6. THE LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT USES THE BRAND TO HELP KIDS.


Los Angeles Police Department

If you’re a kid (or even if you’re not), a police station can seem like a scary place. The Los Angeles Police Department has Little Free Library book exchanges in nearly all of its precincts to engage kids in a positive way and promote reading through Little Free Library’s Kids, Community, and Cops program.

7. SOME LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES CAN HELP YOU READ BEACHSIDE.


Little Free Library located in Long Island Beach, California.

Courtesy of Little Free Library

In Long Beach, New York, beachgoers can find some summer reading in Little Free Libraries sponsored by the Long Beach Public Library. The Little Free Library nonprofit has worked with more than 600 public libraries, who use Little Libraries for community outreach, and has been honored by the American Library Association.

8. THE 50,000TH LITTLE FREE LIBRARY HAS CHARITABLE INTENTIONS.


Photo courtesy of Little Free Library

Little Free Libraries can sometimes be found at homeless shelters, where readers from all walks of life can find a book to keep. The 50,000th Little Free Library, pictured here, was donated to the Illumination Foundation—which works with homeless clients in Santa Ana, California—via the Little Free Library organization’s Impact Fund.

9. YOU CAN FIND A FEW IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS.


Photo courtesy of Emilia, Bennett, Erin, and Andy Mead

Visit a campground in Manitoba, Canada, and you might come across a portable, mini-tent library in the woods. The Little Free Library travels around with the Library steward on camping trips.

10. THE COLLECTIONS HAVE MADE THEIR WAY TO COLLEGE CAMPUSES.

What kind of books do you think you’d find in a Little Free Library on the Harvard University campus? The university is one of several institutions of higher learning that hosts a Little Free Library, allowing students to trade textbooks, novels, and everything in between.

11. A CONTEST BROUGHT UNIQUE DESIGNS TO THE BIG APPLE.


Photo courtesy of PEN American Center

An architecture contest sponsored by the PEN World Voices Festival and the Architectural League of New York inspired 10 modern Little Free Libraries that appeared on the streets of New York City, including this cheery yellow one. (There is now a nearly-identical Little Free Library in Thessaloniki, Greece.)

The One Harry Potter Character JK Rowling Regrets Killing Off

Angela Weiss, AFP/Getty Images
Angela Weiss, AFP/Getty Images

Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't read or watched the Harry Potter series: Many beloved characters die. From Dobby to Snape to Dumbledore (and the list goes on), Potterheads have reason to shed a tear during nearly every book and/or film. It was surely upsetting for JK Rowling to write these deaths, but she has spoken out about the one character she actually regrets killing off.

According to IGN, Rowling once wrote on Pottermore about how she regretted killing Florean Fortescue. If you don't remember him, you're probably not alone; he's the owner of an ice cream parlor in Diagon Alley, and a minor character. So why, out of the multiple heartbreaking deaths she concocted, does the acclaimed author feel so strongly about killing off Florean?

"I originally planned Florean to be the conduit for clues that I needed to give Harry during his quest for the Hallows, which is why I established an acquaintance fairly early on," Rowling explained. "The problem was that when I came to write the key parts of Deathly Hallows, I decided that Phineas Nigellus Black was a much more satisfactory means of conveying clues. I seemed to have him kidnapped and killed for no good reason. He is not the first wizard whom Voldemort murdered because he knew too much (or too little), but he is the only one I feel guilty about, because it was all my fault."

So basically, Florean was created as a plot device that ultimately was not needed in the end. As he faces death "for no good reason" according to Rowling, it seems his character's demise was just the result of a little narrative reorganization. As Rowling of all people should know, there could have been worse ways to go.

A 17th-Century Noblewoman's Rare Poems About War-Torn England Can Be Read Online

Hajotthu, Wikimedia Commons // Public domain
Hajotthu, Wikimedia Commons // Public domain

Hester Pulter wasn't famous for anything in particular, but the 17th-century aristocrat's poems have historical value for other reasons. Pulter wrote about science, religion, politics, the English Civil War (fought from 1642 to 1651), and even the execution of Charles I, which wouldn't be all that unusual, except for the fact that she was a woman. And a woman of high social standing at that.

Although her poems can now be read online for free via The Pulter Project, the noblewoman probably never meant for them to be published back in the 1600s, according to Samantha Snively, a Ph.D candidate in Early Modern Literature at the University of California, Davis.

"In order to avoid slander, the few women who did publish usually wrote about topics more aligned with proper womanly values: household guides, devotional books and diaries, or memoirs of their husbands," Snively wrote for The Conversation. "An aristocratic woman like Hester would have been expected to behave modestly, keep quiet, and focus on her household rather than write about political conflicts and scientific experimentation."

According to Smithsonian magazine, Pulter's poems went largely unread for centuries until 1996, when a graduate student at the University of Leeds pulled them from the shelves of the university's Brotherton Library while undertaking a project to digitize 17th-century poetry manuscripts. The online portal includes both digital versions of Pulter's original manuscripts as well as transcriptions of her writings.

Pulter, who was likely born in or around Dublin in June 1605, wrote most of her poems in the 1640s and 1650s at the height of the English Civil War. As such, her poems reflect her "deeply felt responses to the carnage and chaos of the mid-seventeenth century, as to the afflictions and losses in her own life," The Pulter Project notes.

Despite being the daughter of a chief justice on the king's bench in Ireland, Pulter was critical of different political factions, including the Parliamentarians and the ruling class, while also revering monarchs like Charles I.

Snively noted that Pulter's body of work contains "early feminist ideas and addresses, in complex ways, how society constricts women's behavior, devalues their work, and diminishes their intellectual value."

Pulter—the daughter of James Ley, who became the first Earl of Marlborough—gave birth to 15 children and rarely left her home. In one poem, she laments, "Why must I thus forever be confined / Against the noble freedom of my mind?"

[h/t Smithsonian]

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