Sunday, September 4, 2016

Free books

This summer I've noticed a number of boxes offering free books in the areas of the city where I walk. Many ask you to leave a book if you take one, but this colourful Kitsilano box seems to just want you to take them.

There are even more free books stacked in this wardrobe-like outlet, also in Kitsilano. It asks people to take only two at a  time, but nothing about leaving any in return. Perhaps I'm not the only one trying to dispose of books?

People like me always have way too many books. It's the culling and disposing, not the acquiring, that's the issue.

But this summer I've been intrigued to notice little boxes -- sometimes beautiful, sometimes not -- around the city stuffed with books. Usually there's a sign saying "take a book, leave a book," or "free books." Some of the boxes have signs indicating they are part of the world-wide Little Free Library phenomenon. Begun in the U.S. in 2009, it promotes literacy and community, and as of June 2016 had 40,000 little libraries all over the world.

The Little Library boxes, often made of recycled materials, are overseen by stewards who promote their use and keep them clean and attractive-looking. The idea is that everyone who takes a book leaves one in its place.

Some of the boxes I've seen could use a little more stewardship, and I've never seen a book in them that I had to have. But I applaud anyone who cares enough about reading and their community to install a box in front of their house.

Now about those books I'd like to get rid of ... . If I left a book, could I just not take one?

This rather sorry-looking box is near a couple of schools, including a ritzy private one in Vancouver. I was amused that someone had misspelled "Leave"  as "Leve" -- and someone added a tiny  "a" to correct the mistake. 

This dollhouse-like book box is  on a main street in my area. Its bright colours make it hard to miss. But what's stunning is its location, as shown below.
The "dollhouse" is perched on the retaining wall of a heavily treed lot, and surrounded by huge sunflowers. At first it looks so small you can't believe it can hold books. But it does!

This book-exchange box in Kitsilano comes with its own bench. A little sign says the books were the property of someone who lived in the adjacent house for 20 years and loved to exchange books. The bench and box were built in her honour when she died.

This book exchange was quietly mounted on the back fence of an ally near my house. 

This box has a sticker saying it is affiliated with the Little Free Library.

Another Little Free Library box, this one in Point Grey. 


  1. I do love seeing these free book boxes but never seem to have a book to leave when I see one. Perhaps I'll put some in the trunk.There are a number of bookshelves in our laundry room where people leave amazingly good quality books.

  2. My best friend just installed one of these on her front lawn. I walk by two every day on my way to work. There always seems to be some turnover. The one in front of the bus stop is especially well used. I'm loving this community initiative :)

  3. I love little free libraries! One of the community groups I work with installed several around the tiny community of Hanna this past spring, geared specifically at young children. The library at the town campsite has been especially popular. Ours are nowhere near as cute as some of these are though!

  4. Thanks for your comments, everyone. Book-lovers all! Since I posted this item, I've spotted another couple of boxes, so added them in. You'll love the dollhouse book box!