It’s hard to resist the adorable Little Free Libraries that have popped up around town. I’m a big reader and love to browse titles, so it didn’t take much for me to snoop around the Little Free Library that’s in my SouthPark neighborhood.

Since I wasn’t sure of the rules, I figure plenty of others aren’t either. Here’s the deal:

What is a Little Free Library?

Essentially it’s a box of books made available to share among neighbors. Many of them are adorable mini-houses perched on stands. But they can be as simple as a basket or a box.

Dropped off autographed books at the Little Free Library in Charlotte, NC.

A photo posted by Nancy Naigle : Author (@nancynaigle) on

 

Can anybody take a book? Yes. You don’t need a library card, you don’t need to sign a check-out form. You can just take a book.

No strings?

None, but it’s nice if you can donate a book to the Little Free Library you borrowed from, or at least return the book eventually.

Does the city provide them?

Here’s the cool thing: Anybody can create one. Boy Scout troops have made them. The library has seeded some. Plenty of people who simply love reading have made them. In my neighborhood, a couple built one in their front yard. There’s no set architectural rules, but there are templates.

Charlotte’s Business and Neighborhood Services has provided matching grants for two – one in Madison Park, another in McCrory Heights. (If you go that route, understand you have to follow zoning rules, which include building the Little Free Library 11 feet back from the road.) Nicole Storey, manager of that department, says the city is trying to build the libraries near transit stops – “riders are readers.”

Is it free?

Because Little Free Libraries are a guerrilla movement of sorts, they’re only as expensive as the materials. If you want an officially registered Little Free Library, you must pay a $40 fee. That gets you on this very cool national map. But you don’t have to.

How do I get the books?

A lot of people simply donate them from their private stash. But Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library has a ton of excess books donated to them from throughout the years that it can give you.

Are they policed in any way?

This is the First Amendment in action, so no. What’s in there is in there. Storey says there have been very few problems over the years.

Particularly clever Little Free Libraries:


 

jenpic5Jen Rothacker recently borrowed “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” from a Little Free Library. She plans to read it on her upcoming vacation.

 

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