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Madison’s Little Free Libraries

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A fire station-themed library on Lakeland Ave. | Photo by 608today team

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You’ve seen those tiny, painted boxes posted up in a front yard or outside of a business, but have you ever wondered how these brightly colored gems got there?

There are 400+ Little Free Libraries spread across the city providing access to books to Madisonians. The idea got its start back in 2009 in Hudson — about 243 miles northwest of Madison — by a UW-Madison graduate and is now in all 50 US states and 85+ countries.

Madison was the first city outside of Hudson to receive an official Little Free Library + has continued to grow on the isthmus. The non-profit organization has partnered with the Friends of the Madison Public Library over the past several years to pull duplicate or unsold books from book sales to fill the boxes.

Today, we’re breaking down these little bundles of good, including what they are, where to find one + how you can become a Little Free host.

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A cute house little library on Dickinson St. | Photo by 608today team

What are they

The Little Free Libraries provide access to books for those who might not have easy access to a public library. They operate on a take what you need, give what you can model.

Who they’re for

Well, that’s easy. They’re for everyone + anyone. The libraries aim to service children and their families to help further education and support high school graduation status.

Where to find them

The locations of the libraries can be found on interactive maps. Not all of Madison’s are documented, but you take a virtual tour of many around the city.

How to start one

To start a Little Free Library you can simply build one on your own or buy one from the Little Free Library online store. The boxes come undecorated, so you can customize the look on your own. Get inspired by checking out these designs.