Free Little Libraries

I have a problem with “Free Little Libraries”. What you might say? How could a school librarian have a problem with a free little library?! Aren’t books and the exchanging of books a part of your job?! Or is she afraid that they will put her out of job?!

These questions are all ones that I’m sure crossed many minds when they read the first sentence. Creation of free little libraries is not the problem. I love the idea of individuals freely exchanging books and ideas. In fact, sometimes they can be much more convenient than the local public library as many of the free libraries are in neighbors while budget cuts have reduced branches of some public libraries.

What I object to with “free little libraries” is the name. By calling them “libraries”, we’ve reduced the concept of a library to just the exchanging of books. Libraries are so much more than this. I get this all the time when students enter the Academic Learning Center (my library) with the limited amount of physical books we have. I try to tell them that we are so much more than just the books, and that is why we are the “Academic Learning Center”. We offer not only reading material and information, but also technology help, academic support, craft resources, an ear to listen, direction help, research/writing assistance and more. Truly, we are a library but when most people here the word “library” they automatically think of books. Libraries are book exchange places, but also learning centers, information centers, community resources, safe havens…and the list could go on. Libraries offer the human touch as well that these “free little libraries” cannot offer.

Maybe it is time to do some major remarketing with libraries? Maybe it is time to change the name? Most libraries regardless of where they are located are working hard with this and continue to change the perception of the library as simply an exchange of books. But the name of “free little library” only goes to set this back in this blogger’s humble opinion. Maybe then we need to change the name of “free little library” to “free little book exchange” because they are not libraries but simply places to find your next read.


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