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.)

Jane Austen's Handwritten Letter About a Nightmarish Visit to the Dentist Is Up for Auction

Photos.com/iStock via Getty Images
Photos.com/iStock via Getty Images

For about $100,000, you could own a tangible reminder that Jane Austen hated going to the dentist, too—even when she wasn’t the patient.

After escorting her three nieces to a dentist named Spence in 1813, Austen was so appalled at the dental practices of the time that she described them to her sister Cassandra in a letter, which could now sell for $80,000 to $120,000 at an auction later this week. Smithsonian reports that the value is so high partially because only 161 of an estimated 3000 letters written by the celebrated author still exist; the rest were destroyed by Austen’s family after her death, possibly to avoid personal matters from leaking to the public.

jane austen letter about the dentist
Bonhams

This letter doesn’t contain anything particularly private, but it does provide some intimate insight into Austen—who famously remained unmarried and childless herself—as a doting aunt and sister.

“The poor Girls & their Teeth!” she wrote. “We were a whole hour at Spence’s, & Lizzy’s were filed and lamented over again & poor Marianne had two taken out after all … we heard each of the two sharp hasty screams.”

While Austen doesn’t speculate about whether or not the work on the aforementioned nieces’ teeth was necessary, she definitely had an opinion about Spence’s treatment of her third (and favorite) niece Fanny.

“Fanny’s teeth were cleaned too—& pretty as they are, Spence found something to do to them, putting in gold & talking gravely … but I think he must be a Lover of Teeth & Money & Mischief to parade about Fannys [sic].”

If you think a visit to the dentist is uncomfortable in the age of anesthetics and easily accessible milkshakes, you can imagine that getting teeth filed, filled, and pulled in the early 19th century was a full-fledged nightmare. The main fix for a cavity was simply pulling the tooth out, which the Jane Austen Center explains was often done with a pelican or key, both metal instruments that were braced against the gum and then twisted to tear out the tooth.

In addition to the horrifying dental report, Austen also writes about her mother’s improving health, a visit to a family friend, and a department store shopping trip.

Bonhams will include the letter in their annual Americana and Travel auction in New York on Wednesday, October 23.

Curious to know more about the woman behind Pride and Prejudice? Check out eight intriguing facts here.

[h/t Smithsonian]

25 of Oscar Wilde's Wittiest Quotes

By Napoleon Sarony - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Napoleon Sarony - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On October 16, 1854, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland. He would go on to become one of the world's most prolific writers, dabbling in everything from plays and poetry to essays and fiction. Whatever the medium, his wit shone through.

1. On God

"I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability."

2. On the world as a stage

"The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast."

3. On forgiveness

"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."

4. On good vs. bad

"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."

5. On getting advice

"The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself."

6. On happiness

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."

7. On cynicism

"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."

8. On sincerity

"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."

9. On money

"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."

10. On life's greatest tragedies

"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."

11. On hard work

"Work is the curse of the drinking classes."

12. On living within one's means

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."

13. On true friends

"True friends stab you in the front."

14. On mothers

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."

15. On fashion

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

16. On being talked about

"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

17. On genius

"Genius is born—not paid."

18. On morality

"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike."

19. On relationships

"How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?"

20. On the definition of a "gentleman"

"A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally."

21. On boredom

"My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s."

22. On aging

"The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything."

23. On men and women

"I like men who have a future and women who have a past."

24. On poetry

"There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope."

25. On wit

"Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit."

And one bonus quote about Oscar Wilde! Dorothy Parker said it best in a 1927 issue of Life:

If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.

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