There is something naturally comforting about sitting down with a new book to read. A world undiscovered, characters to become friends with and love, or a new nemesis to battle. All in the safety of your favorite reading place. Sometimes, finding your next book can be an adventure. Consider looking for and finding a nearby Little Free Library. With about 150 registered little free libraries in Spokane County, you should find one in your neighborhood, near an elementary school or church. There are another 150 little libraries around Spokane as well.

Little Free Library Spokane
A very blue Little Free Library has a variety of titles and little surprises. Photo credit: Amanda Carpentier

First, if you are not familiar with Little Free Library, it is an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on spreading books’ availability for all to enjoy reading. From its meager beginnings in Hudson, Wisconsin, there are now over 100,000 Little Free Library locations in 108 countries. To find registered Little Free Library locations use a map search with the options ‘near me,’ zip code, area, country, stewards name (or library’s name), or the charter number.

Free libraries or little libraries not chartered do exist in a lot of locations. Chartered or not, these libraries can be a simple container, a ‘house’ with a window door or sheltered bookcase and usually placed in front of the owner’s home near the sidewalk or street. There are no specific requirements for a little library, other than the ‘free’ nature of these book-sharing locations, as stated on the Little Free Library’s official website.

Little Free Library Spokane
This Little Free Library is a little weathered, but snowy footprints show it’s been visited recently. Photo credit: Amanda Carpentier

“Originally designed to look like a one-room school or a ‘house of books,’ the libraries rapidly took on a wide variety of sizes, shapes, themes, and other attributes. There is no standard size and shape. Although many businesses and apartments may have had book-sharing shelves for years, the idea of a network of unique structures with stewards, signage, and social support began in 2010.”

A free book exchange must register with an official charter sign and charter number to be officially called a Little Free Library.

According to Brian Vander Veen, “Managing our Little Free Library hasn’t been much of a chore. For the most part, it’s been self-regulating, with the ‘Take a Book, Return a Book’ slogan pretty much describing how it’s been used.”

Little Free Library Spokane
A hand reaches in and pulls out “My Very First Mother Goose” among many options in this Little Free Library. Photo credit: Amanda Carpentier

Each registered free library has one or more stewards, and the charter provides access to low-cost books to stock their library. Many stewards also stock their library with books from garage sales, thrift stores, Friends of the Library sales, and local bookstores. Last fall, Auntie’s Book offered savings for one Little Library steward’s wish list specific for providing books by people of color.

So, where are these Little Free Libraries in Spokane? The easy answer is many neighborhoods have them. Four of these libraries are Little Free Libraries under the Impact Library Program, where the charter is donated for the stewards.

One of these Impact Libraries is located in Hillyard. This neighborhood could be considered a book desert, where most households have less than five books, magazines, or written materials in their house. Two out of three children living in poverty do not have a book of their own. Little Libraries can help change lives, one book at a time.

While most avid readers cannot imagine life without a book, many adults and children have only come to know the joy of book ownership and sharing through little libraries.

Little Free Library Spokane
As the pandemic changed our community, some Little Free Library locations turned into food sources including staples like cereal, shelf-stable milk, and canned foods. Photo credit: Amanda Carpentier

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, many libraries have transformed one of their shelves into a food source to help out neighbors in need. The foods found are often canned goods, pasta, soups, and pantry staples. Some churches and apartment communities have dedicated libraries for foodstuffs and a second one for books. Other libraries include little surprises like a painted rock, motivational magnet, music CD and other items like toothbrushes or a new hair scrunchy.

You can help! Sort through your books, find one or two you can part with, and set them aside. Then, check out the official Little Free Library website. Once you’ve located the nearest Little Free Library, you will be ready to take one or share one. Enjoy a new adventure in reading!