Todd Bol, the founder of the Little Free Library concept, died last month from pancreatic cancer at the age of 62. But before he passed away, he made an observation that should make all of us think.
“If I may be so bold, I’m the most successful person I know,” Bol told a newspaper. “Because I stimulate 54 million books to be read and neighbors to talk to each other. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the very definition of success.”
As readers, you are probably familiar with Little Free Libraries, but in case you aren’t, you can watch Bol’s 11-minute TEDxFargo presentation.
I love so much about the notion of these little libraries that house anywhere from 20 to 100 books at any given time. I love that Bol started these as a tribute to his mother who was a teacher and book lover. I love that they encourage people to read. I love that they take the library beyond four walls. But the thing I love most about them is that they are bringing neighbors together.
In an age when we barely wave at our neighbors or invite each other to sit on the front porch to enjoy a glass of iced tea and good conversation, Little Free Libraries are promoting real community.
This blog post notes that Kristine Huson, communications director of Little Free Libraries Ltd., says she has heard from people who met more neighbors in one week than in the past ten years. And a 76-year-old man who put up a Little Free Library says he met more of his neighbors in the first three weeks than in the previous 30 years. That same newspaper story says the man’s library has become a mini-town square where people discuss Sherlock Holmes, sustainability and genealogy.
It’s difficult to obey the scriptural mandate to love our neighbors if we don’t even know their names. So we owe Bol and others (like Kristin Schell who started the Turquoise Table movement) for giving us simple ways we can move beyond a polite wave across the yard.
If you want to know more about starting a Little Free Library, check out the official page (it even has a map that allows you to search for one in your area).*
* I’m in no way affiliated with Little Free Library. I’m just a fan.