Library lends itself to slow traffic

February 5, 2012 by  

What began as measure to calm traffic on a busy street has grown into a way to get Americans talking to their neighbors and building community.

Started by St. Paul resident Todd Bol, Little Free Libraries are popping up all over St. Paul. There are three on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis and hundreds of other streets just like his.

“I wanted to slow down the traffic in front of the house,”

said Bol, who was looking for a way to attract the attention of people driving too fast in his neighborhood. Bol put a box in his front yard, placed some formerly-loved books inside, did some banner printing with the words “Little Free Library” and achieved his objective.

There’s no librarian, no card and the lending library is about as big as a standard mailbox. The concept is simple. Books that are just collecting dust, are earmarked for Good Will or are just ready to be pasfsed on are placed in the library, ready for the taking. All that’s required is that they are either returned, or replaced with other books from the lender.

When word of Bol’s idea spread, people asked if they could start their own. Consequently, he admitted that he’s built about 40 Little Free Libraries for others and the rest of the receptacles were created by willing contractors.

“What happens is the great ideas come from the community,” said Bol. “You know people step up and like the lady in New Orleans, she’s just a fantastic story.”

The New Orleans woman Bol was referring to began a contest whereby participants could earn a Little Free Library for their community.

“What we would think would be a hoot is if we had enough funding to go around and leave these libraries randomly,”

Bol said with a smile.