A wood box, basic carpentry skills and a few used books. It doesn’t take a lot to make a lending library for book lovers in your neighborhood. Promoted by the Wisconsin-based non-profit Little Free Library, there are now over 50,000 vessels of literary generosity in 70 countries around the world.
While there are similar book exchange forums world wide—from office book clubs and online book swap sites to the chic Used Book Café in Paris—Little Free Library set itself apart by establishing a design language that makes the pop-up libraries instantly recognizable on streets. Inspired by architectural models, Little Free Library sponsors DIY building sessions (there are several open-source “blueprints” on their website) and sells pre-made book boxes that look like miniature rustic sheds.
After thousands of crafty examples, Little Free Library noted that some models could be improved with advice from professional architects and builders. The ideal box library should be weather-proof, fit at least 25 books, and delight neighbors, including young children. The group teamed up with the American Institute of Architects-San Francisco and Chronicle Books to launch a contest to crowdsource solutions that negotiate usability and aesthetic concerns. […]