15 Gorgeous Little Free Libraries

Photo courtesy of Flickr user David Silver.

The Little Free Library movement began in Wisconsin in 2009, and gained momentum quickly. Little free libraries sprung up all over the world—outside cafes, in parks, beside full-sized libraries and bookstores, and even in people’s front yards. They have books inside for anyone to borrow, with signs inviting users to donate books. By January 2015, the number of mini libraries registered with the Little Free Library organization had grown to 22,000. 

We’ve gathered some of the best photos of Little Free Libraries we could find, everything from the classic house-like structures for sale on the organization’s website to a series of little libraries in New York City sponsored by the PEN World Voices Festival and The Architectural League of New York.

1. I’ll be your mirror

Fourth Arts Block, Extra Place with stpmj, photo courtesy of stpmj.

This little library at Fourth Arts Block is clad in mirrors that reflect the street art on a nearby brick wall. 

2. Repurposed newspaper box

Photo credit Flickr user Josh Larios.

The slow decline of traditional news media does not, fortunately, mean the end of reading. 

3. Inspired by Andrew Carnegie

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Hay, The Architectural League of New York. 

The Little Free Library project has drawn much of its inspiration from Andrew Carnegie, the great funder of American libraries. This library was placed outside New York City’s University Settlement by Mark Rakatansky Studio with Aaron White. 

4. British phone booth style

Photo by Christine Modey.

American phone booths were never this pretty. 

5. Nook and cranny

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Hay, The Architectural League of New York.

This inventive library is set between two pillars outside Cooper Union in New York City. It was designed by the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture’s Design III Studio with Maja Hjertsén Knutson and Christopher Taleff, designer leaders and Michael Young, David Allin and Lydia Kallipoliti, faculty team. 

6. The A-Frame

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mark Turnauckas.

This little library in Ohio is adorably triangular. 

7. Particleboard that looks like paper

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Hay, The Architectural League of New York.

This Little Free Library doubles as a bench. It’s located at the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council in New York City, and was designed with Chat Travieso. 

8. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mark McClure

The Little Free Library organization encourages people to build libraries out of reclaimed materials, like this repurposed window. 

9. Sunshine on a cloudy day

Photo courtesy of Beowulf Sheehan/PEN American Center. 

This cheerful Little Free library at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School was designed by The They Co. with Stereotank. 

10. The Doctor is In

Photo by @EugeneTardisLFL

Many LFLs have been designed to look like the Tardis from Dr. Who

11. The Wall-E of Little Free Libraries

Photo by Carolyn Kellogg.

This LFL in Joshua Tree looks like a pair of robot eyes. 

12. The book in the bubble

New York University with Matter Practice, photo courtesy of Beowulf Sheehan/PEN American Center. 

Some Little Free Libraries are small enough that they only hold one book, like this one at New York University that’s attracting the attention of a passing child. 

13. The bird house

Photo courtesy of Mallorn Imagery

This library in Moscow looks like it could hold bird seed as well as books. 

14. The transparent library

Photo courtesy of Beowulf Sheehan/PEN American Center.

This installation at La MaMa in New York City, designed with Davies Tang + Toews, has a clear compartment for each book. 

15. Park it here

Created by the Hester Street Collaborative with Shannon Harvey, Adam Michaels and Levi Murphy, photo courtesy of Shannon Harvey.

This library on Hester Street in New York transforms an ordinary cement lot into a refuge. 

Is there a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? Show us a picture in the comments! If you don’t have one near you yet, check out the Little Free Library website for information on how to buy or build your own little library. 

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India's Supreme Court Demands That the Taj Mahal Be Restored or Demolished
iStock
iStock

The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognizable monuments on Earth, but over the years it's started to look less like its old self. Smog and insect droppings are staining the once pure-white marble exterior an unseemly shade of yellow. Now, The Art Newspaper reports that India's Supreme Court has set an ultimatum: It's threatening to shut down or demolish the building if it's not restored to its former glory.

Agra, the town where the Taj Mahal is located, has a notorious pollution problem. Automobile traffic, factory smoke, and the open burning of municipal waste have all contributed to the landmark's increasing discoloration. Insects and acid rain also pose a threat to the facade, which is already crumbling away in some parts.

India's highest court now says the country's central government must seek foreign assistance to restore the UNESCO World Heritage Site if it's to remain open. Agra's state of Uttar Pradesh has taken some steps to reduce pollution in recent years, such us banning the burning of cow dung, which produces heavy brown carbon. In 2015, India's Supreme Court ordered all wood-burning crematoriums near the Taj Mahal to be swapped for electric ones.

But the measures haven't done enough to preserve the building. A committee led by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpu reportedly plans to investigate the exact sources of pollution in the area, a process that will take about four months. The Supreme Court plans check in on the status of site every day from July 31.

Air pollution isn't the only factor damaging the Taj Mahal. It was constructed near the Yamuna River in the 17th century, and as the water gradual dries up, the ground beneath the structure is shifting. If the trend continues it could lead to the building's total collapse.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

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Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Norway Opens Another Spectacular Roadside Bathroom
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen

Norway’s National Tourist Routes will change how you think about rest stops. As part of a decades-long program, the Norwegian government has been hiring architects and designers to create beautiful roadside lookouts, bathrooms, and other amenities for travelers along 18 scenic highways throughout the country. One of the latest of the projects unveiled, spotted by Dezeen, is a glitzy restroom located on the Arctic island of Andøya in northern Norway.

The facility, designed by the Oslo-based Morfeus Arkitekter, is located near a rock formation called Bukkekjerka, once used as a sacrificial site by the indigenous Sami people. The angular concrete and steel structure is designed to fit in with the jagged mountains that surround it.

The mirrored exterior wall of the bathroom serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it reflects the scenery around the building, helping it blend into the landscape. But it also has a hidden feature. It’s a one-way mirror, allowing those inside the restroom to have a private view out over the ocean or back into the mountains while they pee.

The newly landscaped rest area near the bathroom will serve as an event space in the future. The Bukkekjerka site is already home to an annual open-air church service, and with the new construction, the space will also be used for weddings and other events. Because this is the Arctic Circle, though, the restroom is only open in the late spring and summer, closing from October to May. Check it out in the photos below.

A bathroom nestled in a hilly landscape
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

The mirrored facade of a rest stop reflects concrete steps leading down a pathway.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A person stands outside the bathroom's reflective wall.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A wide view of a rest stop at the base of a coastal mountain
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Trine Kanter Zerwekh / Statens vegvesen

[h/t Dezeen]

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