We’re deeply saddened to report that our Founder, Todd H. Bol, passed away Thursday, October 18.
Todd spent much of the last decade working towards his vision of a world where neighbors know each other by name, and everyone has access to books. He was heartene...
We’re saddened to report that our Founder and Executive Director, Todd H. Bol, was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Todd has entered hospice care and is heartened by the network of more than 75,000 Little Free Library stewards around the world dedicated to literacy and community.
Please share your favorite story of Todd below. It means a lot to Todd, his family, and all of us at the Little Free Library nonprofit organization to hear from you. Letters may be mailed to: Little Free Library, 573 County Road A, Suite 106, Hudson, WI 54016.
Our public statement is here. For press inquiries or general questions about Little Free Library, please contact us.
If you’d like to offer your support to Little Free Library during this time, please consider making a contribution to the Todd H. Bol Vision Fund. Your donation to this fund will help ensure the continued growth of Little Free Library’s mission to inspire a love of reading, build community, and spark creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting and chatting at length with Todd in Los Angeles before, and am devastated to hear this news. My heart goes out to him and his family. I am heartened that his life’s work will live long past his own and will have a profound effect on millions of others, even if they’re not directly aware of it.
About two years ago, I registered Little Free Library #8424 and a year and three months ago it opened up with a just a few books to serve the Adams Hill neighborhood in Glendale, CA. Along the way during the intervening time, we’ve had almost 500 donated books go through our humble metal doors. In addition to our local library, some of our donated books also go to help seed several dozen similar libraries in surrounding communities, many of which are considered book deserts, meaning that there are few outlets (public libraries, school libraries, or bookstores, etc.) for books or reading available to people in those communities. As a result, and unsurprisingly, the literacy rates in these neighborhoods are not as high as they should be.
A Surprise Invitation
Several weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation from Little Free Library stewards and founders of The Literacy Club, Doug and Jean Chadwick, who said they would be hosting a steward meet-up for people running Little Free Libraries in the Los Angeles area.
Little Free Library & The Literacy Club Presents: An evening with Todd Bol
Come meet Todd and your fellow stewards for an evening of fun! You’ll get to talk Little Libraries and books, enjoy snacks, beer, wine and soft drinks, and swap stories with everyone in attendance.
Part of the motivation for the event was because Todd Bol, co-founder and executive director of the Little Free Library movement was coming to Los Angeles on Thursday, November 3rd.
It seemed like a great excuse to meet some of my fellow library stewards in the area and swap stories, and exchange advice.
Little Free Library #50,000
At the time I didn’t know that Todd was coming out to the West coast from Wisconsin in part to celebrate the unveiling of Little Free Library charter number 50,000 in Santa Ana, California, the day after he met with us. To help put the growth of the movement into perspective, remember that I registered library #8424 about two years ago.
The Literacy Club
As I was to discover when I arrived, Todd came not only to meet several library stewards in the Los Angeles area but to help honor all our efforts. In particular to honor the efforts of the Literacy Club which has helped to set up and run over 50 Little Free Libraries in the Los Angeles area including in hospitals, various neighborhoods, and every police station in the city (except two, which are on their to-do list). They’ve also built and host libraries in Ohio and Wisconsin as well.
I was very impressed with their efforts and even a tad jealous that I hadn’t thought to set up dozens of libraries like this, though trust me, the amount of work involved is no small potatoes–it’s obviously a full time hobby and then some.
As a small comparison, I opened up Little Free Library charter #8424 a year and three months ago, and we’ve had almost 500 books move through our library; the Literacy Club is moving thousands of books a month!
Paul Krekorian, Councilmember of the Second District of the City of Los Angeles, had sent a Certificate of Appreciation to present to The Literacy Club for all of their fantastic work in the city. Our little soiree included a lovely presentation by Field Deputy Sahag Yedalian (who was representing Krekorian’s office) to the Chadwicks for their work on The Literacy Club’s behalf.
After catching my breath, I was a bit sad that the certificate wasn’t made out to the Little Free Library #8424, which is really the true recipient of the honor. While I did do a good bit of work to put the library together and erect it in front of my house, it really is the neighborhood and community that do all of the work in supporting and using our Adams Hill treasure. So I’ll take a moment to say thank you to all my neighbors and friends in and beyond Adams Hill in Glendale for supporting our neighborhood Little Free Library.
Many other LFL stewards in attendance were also presented with certificates of appreciation for their help in seeding book deserts in the surrounding Los Angeles areas.
During the evening it was great hearing some stories and ideas from many in the room. In particular it was nice to hear the story of Little Free Library #1 that Todd built and thereby started the growing movement of book exchanges.
It was also interesting to hear his philosophy of treating the Little Free Library organization as a “reverse franchise” set up. Most franchise operations perfect the concept of their business before spinning it out into thousands of locations. He prefers to have a few interesting ideas to put out into the community, which is likely to be wildly more creative and perfect those ideas or come up with incarnations and offshoots that the small staff at headquarters couldn’t have possibly created. Then, once perfected, headquarters can help disseminate the ideas to everyone and everywhere else. I though this was great advice for non-profit organizations like this.
Also at the party, I also got to meet the President of the Burbank noon Kiwanis Charles Chavoor who was present to show support for The Literacy Club and their efforts. The Kiwanis there are funding a large Little Free Library to be dedicated shortly.
We also got to hear advance news about a major pending announcement for which we were all embargoed until November 14th, so you’ll have to wait until then for more details.
Todd also shared some of his work in growing the Little Free Library movement in Indonesia as well as several partnerships including the U.S. Army which is stewarding a large number of libraries.
Doug Chadwick shared a somewhat heartbreaking story based on his volunteer experience. He said that an unintended consequence and benefit of putting Little Free Libraries into police stations around the city is that police stations are often the site of court mandated child exchanges between divorced parents who don’t always get along or respect each other. At least while waiting during drop offs and pick ups, the children who are caught in the middle are able to sit down and not only read a book or two while they wait, but they can take them home with them as well.
Doug also shared a previous story of receiving the Little Free Library’s “Master Builder Award” and Todd indicated how rare these original Amish planes were to be able to establish such an award.
The Book Room
When I came to the party, I thought it would be a nice gesture to bring a book or two from my own library for the hosts or to swap with some of the other stewards. I noticed that a few other attendees did the same. Our gracious hosts also had the same idea, but, like the Literacy Club with its grand mission, they managed to pull their version off in even grander style.
As I was leaving, I was invited into The Book Room. Now, I’ll preface this with the fact that I’ve been into the offices and stock rooms over more than a dozen nice sized specialty book shops. The book room in the Chadwick’s home handily put most of them to shame. I was immediately surrounded by shelves with hundreds of stacks of books each with a dozen or more copies of the same book all waiting to be pulled off to create restocking boxes for any of the various Little Free Libraries around town that The Literacy Club stewards.
While I often try to have lightly worn or like new books in my library, every book in this room was brand new and sure to make a proud treasure for the thousands of children who were soon to receive them. It’s exactly the kind of room every library steward dreams of having in their own house.
I was thrilled to be sent home with not just one box full of books, but three boxes. Thus Little Free Library #8424 will soon have some new children’s selections, and, much like an early Santa Claus, I’ll be dropping off many books at some of the surrounding LFLs in the Eagle Rock, Glendale, South Pasadena, and Pasadena areas to spread the wealth and cheer and help continue seeding libraries nearby.
In the meanwhile, I’m dreaming about how I might be able to add on an additional room to the house for books…
Thanks again to The Literacy Club and to Doug and Jean Chadwick, who have impossibly edged me out as the #2 most enthusiastic Little Free Library steward after Todd Bol. And thanks again for hosting such a lovely little party to bring us all closer together. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my love for what we’re all doing. I’ll be in touch shortly about volunteering some of my time to The Literacy Club’s efforts.
Thanks also to The Little Free Library organization which provided guests with lots of great items like The Little Free Library book, buttons, book marks and more.
And finally, thanks yet again to all my friends, family, and neighbors who help to support Little Free Library #8424.
A close up of the beautiful header on the certificates of appreciation.
A close up of the text of the certificates
Little Free Library enthusiasts swap stories and experiences.
You too can make a donation to The Literacy Club. On the table: bookmarks, pins, and magnets supporting the Little Free Library movement.
Would you like to help?
You can help in a variety of ways from donating your lightly used books, volunteering your time, starting your own library, or even making a financial contribution. We welcome your help and know that it will help make our communities better one book at a time. After seeing some of the excellent work that The Literacy Club is doing, you could also help support their GoFundMe campaign.
Hey, you got IndieWeb in my Library... What happens when hobbies collide.
I know that there are lots of personal IndieWeb sites around, and even an indieweb site for a cat, so why couldn’t a library join the IndieWeb?
IndieWeb Core Principles and Libraries
Indeed, libraries are meant to store, protect, and help disseminate information. These functions alone should make them ground zero for the philosophies of owning your own data and making one more connected to their community which underpin the IndieWeb. Shouldn’t they? It almost makes me suspicious that all libraries aren’t part of the IndieWeb movement.
Now sadly, this particular library is ridiculously small, but that doesn’t make it any less important or special. If anything, it’s even more special now because Little Free Library #8424 (Adams Hill) is a proud member of the IndieWeb.
(And yes, for those interested, the library definitely also accepts Indie Book donations!)
A big "Thank You!" to all those who helped make our Little Free Library Grand Opening so successful.
First a major note of thanks to everyone who helped to make the launch of Little Free Library Branch #8424 a fantastic success. Everyone’s support and encouragement is truly appreciated.
When I was setting up, I naturally brought a book to read, but I did it mostly thinking that only two people might actually stop by. (Hey, I’ll be the first to admit that this is a pretty nerdy and a very local pursuit. It’s easy to click “like” on a post; it’s a whole other thing to visit a small neighborhood library even one with free oatmeal cookies.) Fortunately and very pleasantly, there was a steady stream of people from start to finish, so much so that, as the host, I didn’t get to chat with the visitors as much as I would have liked. Apologies to those I couldn’t chat with more, and even moreso to those who heard answers to the same questions multiple times.
In the end, we had over 20 people and a few pets stop by our little event.
A Double Drive-by… booking?!
Under the heading of “Only in LA” I’ll mention that, the highlight of our grand opening was what I can only describe as a double “drive-by booking.” Fortunately no one was hurt.
About 20 minutes into the event a car drove up with two bibliophiles. They each had a book to donate, but apparently didn’t have the time to park and actually stop for a glass of tea or any cookies. So they simply dropped off their books anonymously and then drove immediately off into the sunset. A few minutes later, another car drove up and did the same thing: they donated a book, said hello, and then proceeded on their way without joining the party! Maybe they had an important book signing or a library event to rush off to? Maybe the library police were chasing them for late fines? The mafia probably would have called foul as they didn’t technically put a foot on the curb or call us out, but hopefully this is as dangerous as things get in the Little Free Library world. One of the donated books had its South Pasadena Library serial number filed off, possibly to keep it from being traced, but authorities are working diligently on the case.
As if the double drive-by wasn’t odd enough, we also had a minivan drove by with a brief stop to ask what was going on. The driver mentioned that the car of several people happened to include two librarians, so apparently we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled for possible additional drive-by bookings.
Thanks for the Donations!
Special thanks go to Adam and Darren who dropped off 3 books. And to Delilah from down the street who was responsible for our first children’s book donation. And we can’t forget the massive donation of 8 books of literary fiction from Jeffrey Stewart making the largest, single one time donation. Several other neighbors dropped books off, and many browsed and found something interesting to take with them. I have to admit that I’m glad that I live in a neighborhood with such great taste in books.
The award for the longest distance donation goes to Samantha Marks who donated a signed copy of her new book A Fatal Family Secret which she shipped from Ellicott City, Maryland just in time for the Grand Opening. It counts as the newest book in our collection as it was just published in May. Since it was checked out almost as soon as it entered the collection, it also rates as our quickest check out; those in a rush may want to pick up a copy at Amazon or other fine booksellers.
In all we had a total of 26 donations for our Grand Opening, bringing our grand total to 49, so far.
As a special mention, the award for the furthest distance traveled to make our grand opening goes to Jocelyn, who came from London on her way to Oklahoma!
Again, a big “Thank You!” to everyone who helped to make our Grand Opening such a lovely success! We look forward to seeing everyone come back soon!
Website and Social Media
For those who weren’t able to stop by, we’re now open 24/7 365 days a year. You can visit our branch online at its own website or by means of your favorite social media platform:
After I've suffered almost two years of Little Free Library envy, you're cordially invited to the grand opening of the first Little Free Library in Adams Hill (Charter #8424) on Sunday, August 9th, 2015 from 4pm - 5pm.
About two years ago while surfing online I came across the concept of the Little Free Library and instantly fell in love. It turned out I had been driving by one on my commute regularly and had always wondered what it was and what was going on. I immediately had big dreams for building my own. I surfed their website for ideas and building plans. I registered for my placard. I received my placard. I drew up elaborate plans for building my own. I debated buying new parts versus recycling or upcycling parts. [Trigger warning for bibliophiles: addictive material to follow] I spent hours surfing photos of Little Free Libraries on their Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Flickr pages. This is when Little Free Library Envy set in… for almost two years.
It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too!
If you want to learn more about the movement or host your own Little Free Library, please visit their website.
Little Free Library Charter #8424 is located at 1411 Dartmouth Drive, Glendale, CA 91205. It is located at the dog-leg on Dartmouth on the west side of the street. It is just west of S. Adams Street, roughly at the top of the hill.
Our Library Philosophy
Though Chris built and hosts the library, he’s simply a steward or caretaker, of the branch. The library is free and open for the use of our friends and neighbors in Adams Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods. If you’ve stopped to check things out, you’re automatically an associate librarian. It is appreciated if everyone helps to care for and maintain the library.
The books in our library are always free and never for sale.
Feel free to take a book.
If you have a book you’d like to share, please feel free to donate it.
When you’re done with your book: return it, pass it along to a friend, or release it back into the wild.
You don’t need to “check the book out” or “check it in”, but we do encourage you to sign our guest book and participate via Book Crossing [see below].
Arrangement of Books
Since there isn’t a full time librarian and only so much space, there isn’t (usually) a set order to the arrangement of our books. Since it’s been a long trip up the hill, feel free to stop for a minute to cool off, consider yourself an associate librarian, and rearrange them to suit your whimsy – it is your neighborhood library after all. We only ask that you try to keep any children’s books on the lower shelf for short legs and arms to be able to reach, and that your arrangement ensures all the books fit into the library just in case it rains.
Possible suggestions for arrangements might include:
by the order in which you’ve read them
by author’s first name
by publication date
by publisher or imprint
by topic in reverse alphabetic order
by best to worst (in your opinion or someone else’s)
by those you’ve read and those you haven’t
The options are infinite, so be creative.
All of our books in the Adams Hill Branch are “traveling” books. We try to register all of them on Book Crossing. This is a free web service for watching the journey of individual books as they meander about the world. If you’d like to, you can enter the BCID number inside the front of the book to see where it’s been and even where it goes after you’ve read it. You can also enter any data, thoughts, reviews, etc. for the book on your own, as well as create a note about where you re-released it. (Note that we don’t expect all of our books to necessarily come back to our branch, but we do ask that you pass them along when you’re done with them.)
Pending people updating the location of books removed, check availability at our Book Crossing Zone.
We gladly accept your donated books.
If you have more books than the little library will fit, please don’t simply dump them! You can leave them in a covered box preferably on our stairs/landing – this will keep our sprinklers and the elements from ruining them or you can contact me through Nextdoor.com. If the library has more books than will fit, we’ll occasionally rotate them to help improve the diversity of the available collection over time.
If you’d like to, please write the titles of your donations into our guest book as this will help us to register them on Book Crossing. (You’re welcome to register them on book crossing yourself prior to donation as well.)
Our library has guest book and a pen. Feel free to write down any thoughts, comments, or suggestions you might have about the library and leave them in the library for the other associate librarians who happen by.
You’ll find a red composition book (and pen) inside our library where you can leave your thoughts and comments. Kindly leave the guest book in the library – it’s the one book we have that doesn’t circulate!
In some part the guest book is meant to help catalog the progress of our library. Below are some suggestions for what you might write into our guest book when you visit:
Patrons/Associate Librarians are encouraged to (optionally) write in the books they donate or check out.
Say hello to your fellow neighbors! You can simply write down the day and time of your visit along with a note for future visitors.
Bringing back a book? Feel free to write in a short review of the book you’re returning so others will know what they’re getting into. (If you give it a number of stars, be sure to indicate out of how many possible, so we know your scale.)
Liked a book you borrowed? Flip back into the guest book to see who made the donation and write in a thank you to the donor.
Have a book you’ve been longing for? Write it in and maybe a fellow neighbor has a copy they can donate on a future visit.
Visiting our branch from far away? Be sure to write down your hometown and country so we know how far away our books travel.
Maybe you’re waxing poetic when stopping by? Feel free to write a short poem or haiku about our library.
Our wish list has two functions:
Write down any books you’d love to see come to our library so you can borrow them in the future.
Read the list to see if you have any of the books you might donate so that others can enjoy them.
A Tiny Library with Its Own Social Media
To help support the neighborhood library (in the digital age every library needs a blog right?), I’ve created a website for it at: http://lfl8424.boffosocko.com/. The site has a variety of resources relating to our branch. For those that prefer to follow and interact with the content via social media, there are also the following:
For those interested in my particular process, here’s how I did it.
Recently I saw something a bit more quirky and interesting than my original plans that I could up-cycle, so I made the purchase (happy belated birthday to me)! It was a nice little metal newsstand that Cost Plus World Market had put on clearance as they’re no longer going to carry it. The last one the store had was a bit dinged up and had some scratches, so I negotiated an additional discount. It’s got two spacious shelves with two doors including a glass fronted one, and it’s got the capacity for at least 6 linear feet of books.
A trip to the hardware store for a small sheet of plywood, an 8′ post, and some wood screws, machine screws and nuts finished up the material needs. I cut the post down to 54″ and cut the plywood down to fit underneath the newsstand. I pre-drilled some small holes in the plywood to screw the plywood down onto the post. Then I drilled holes into the bottom of the newsstand and fit it down on top of the plywood and attached with the screws and nuts.
I posted a note on Nextdoor.com and within just minutes had an offer from two neighbors to loan me a post hole digger. (Thanks Rob and Scott!) The following day the 2 foot hole was open and the library was planted. (And I returned the post hole digger to Rob.)
Following this, I dug up a handful of seeder books, registered them with BookCrossing.com and put them on a GoodReads.com shelf, and put them into the library. We’ve technically been open for a week and without any publicity at all, we’ve had over a dozen books flow through the library already.