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Little Free Libraries pop up in Toronto

(Photo: Little Free Library)

It was only a matter of time before the Little Free Library project, which has been trending around the world, caught on in Toronto.

The program, which was initiated in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, as a way to honour his late schoolteacher mother, provides a different option for borrowing books through a system of small, house-like structures set up on front lawns and community parks.

The project works on an honour system in which passersby can take a book, leave a book, or return a book to other little free libraries in the area. No charges, late fees, hold lists, or memberships apply.

After gaining popularity across the U.S., the libraries began to pop up around the world, including Germany, the U.K., and Ghana. Last December, Toronto residents Bill Wrigley and Carolyn Swadron established the city’s first Little Free Library on their front lawn at 304 Lee Ave. in the Beach neighborhood.

Torontoist quotes Wrigley:

We live our lives going 100 miles an hour, but this allows people to stop and talk to each other. It’s all about the joy of sitting down with a good book and getting lost in it … Once a book goes in, it is no longer mine. It’s now a book of the people.

Wrigley hopes to work with the Beach and Annex communities to install more of the borrowing boxes, and expand the project to public parks and lower-income neighbourhoods by getting city councillors, community groups, and business improvement areas on board.

Though in its early stages in Toronto, Wrigley believes there are already six or seven structures in the Beach community. Some of them can be viewed on this Torontoist slideshow.

  • Kayleigh

    I’ve seen the ones in the Beach – so cool!

  • Deborah Tompkins

    We loved the idea and installed Hamilton’s first Little Free Library outside our shop this past March. It’s been a tremendous success and a terrific neighbourhood booster.

  • Jonathan Schmidt

    While the mayor of Toronto wages war against real libraries people rally around a fetishized novelty. Yeah. So cool . . .

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