Tiny libraries in front yards across Colorado inspire love of books
Do you have any examples of tiny libraries in your community?
This Little Free Library is located at 2693 Cherry Street in the Park Hill neighborhood of Denver, CO on April 25, 2013. Tiny little libraries are popping up in yards around the metro area. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
Posted: 04/30/2013 12:01:00 AM MDT April 30, 2013
7:27 PM GMTUpdated: 04/30/2013 01:27:33 PM MDT
This Little Free Library is
located at 2404 South Fig Street in Lakewood, CO on April 25, 2013. (Helen H.
Richardson, The Denver Post)
When community activist Greg Rasheed first heard about tiny libraries popping
up in front yards across America, he wanted to spark the trend in Denver.
He bought a bread box at Goodwill, filled it with books, put it in the front
yard of his North City Park home and waited for folks to partake of his Little
"At first I thought, 'Nobody is going to do this,' " he said. "People are
caught up in video games or tablets or smartphones."
But sanitation workers jumped off trash tracks to grab a book or put one
back, he said, as did construction workers repairing nearby streets and "little
children happy to get some books."
"I was surprised that people were actually taking books out and putting stuff
in there. I'm glad it's booming," he said. "People love to read."
These hyperlocal libraries are often colorful and artistic. Some look like
doll houses, others are tiny reproductions of local landmarks. There are at
least 30 in Colorado, in places including Fort Collins, Chipita Park, Leadville,
Florence, Colorado Springs and metro Denver.
Most are installed on lawns near sidewalks, convenient for neighbors walking
dogs and pushing strollers, but in Fowler, the pop-up library is stationed in an
RV park laundromat.
The Little Free Library movement started in 2009, when Todd Bol
built a tiny one-room schoolhouse, filled it with books and planted it in his
Wisconsin yard with a sign: "Take a book, Return a book."
Readers were charmed and the idea rapidly spread, allowing Bol to co-found
the nonprofit Little Free Library, which maps the movement that now includes 5,000 mini-libraries in 36
countries, including Ghana, Qatar and Pakistan. It costs $35 to register the
library, receive the official charter sign and be posted on the world map.
The tiny library at the Denver Academy, a private school for students with
learning difficulties, is thriving.
"I understand the power of books and the written word, and I've witnessed how
finding the right book can change kids' lives," said author Jolene Gutierrez, the Denver Academy librarian who
started the little library outside. "Our students are excited about the library
and enjoy opening its little door to check for new books."
In Leadville, the goal is also to hook people on
Greg Rasheed, a resident of
North City Park, has started his own Little Free Library outside his home at
2931 Milwaukee St. in Denver. He hopes his little library encourages people to
(Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
"Our community is a pretty low social-economic area in a lot of ways, and I
just like the thought of helping people by encouraging reading," said Mary
Bender, an elementary-school teacher.
Like many tiny libraries, hers doubles as yard art: the little red schoolhouse her husband built is based on the historic schoolhouse in Malta, southwest of
"They show your personality, or your environment's personality," she
In Chipita Park, the little library looks just like the Chipita Park Association
building, where it stands in the lawn — the same cinnamon-red color, the
"It is another way that the people in this small community show how they
share and look out for each other, as was especially evident during and after
the Waldo Canyon fire," resident Mary Jo Schraml said.
In north Boulder, the community is working with the NoBo Art District to
develop six NoBo Little Libraries, paying local artists $1,000 to create art
works that house books, including the
plywood "Reading in Spires" sculpture installed last week in Holiday Park.
Residents are using them as a pilot project, to convince city officials that
they need a public library in their neighborhood.
"Little kids can't get to the library themselves," said artist and north
Boulder resident Annette Coleman. "We're very close to a mobile home park, which
is mostly Latino, so we'll have more books in Spanish."
Perhaps the biggest challenge of a Little Free Library is weatherproofing.
Snow has damaged several libraries.
But book-lovers forge on. Two of the newest libraries opened on Easter
weekend. One on Cherry Street in Park Hill, hand-painted with Colorado forests and a fisherman in a
stream, was busy the moment it opened. The other is on South Vine Street in Washington Park.
"It feels wonderful to be an anchored example of friendliness, civility and
sharing centered around a love of reading," said Robin Filipczak, who will soon
host a dedication party and invite her Washington Park