Borrow a book at nationwide Little Free Libraries - 510 Families
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Borrow a book at nationwide Little Free Libraries

little free library marilyn

It’s no surprise that the Little Free Library movement is represented in the East Bay; after all, it embodies the spirit of our community.  It’s green, intellectual, and a bit counter-culture. In fact, more unexpected to me is that it started elsewhere — in Wisconsin.

little free libraryphoto: Utne Reader (obviously not a 510 Little Free Library!)

The general concept is familiar, especially to those of us who have traveled through youth hostels or who frequent bohemian style coffee shops. Take a book, leave a book just makes sense. But the cuteness factor of the small outdoor wood and glass bookshelves structures popping up all over the country, calling themselves Little Free Libraries, just may be the tipping point for this viral booksharing concept.

It’s also possible that use of the word library is intended to be more literal and I have misunderstood. Perhaps users are meant to return the same books they’ve borrowed when they have finished them. However with such a small bookshelf, that approach doesn’t seem scalable.

My mother-in-law was charmed by the story she heard on NPR about the Little Free Library, and she sought one out in Berkeley by using the online directory of Little Free Libraries. We selected some books from our home and brought them to the address listed on the website.

And there it stood: a one-shelf library, inviting us to swap books!

little free library berkele

Also inside the book box was a small notebook, serving as a log. We indicated which titles we took and what we left behind.

If you’d like to show your children the magic of an adorable public library, here are the East Bay locations as of this writing:

ALAMEDA – 1024 Taylor Ave. Alameda, California 94591
BERKELEY – 900 Santa Barbara Rd.
EL CERRITO – 116 San Carlos Ave El Cerrito, California 94530
OAKLAND – 36 Glen Ave. Oakland, California 94611
OAKLAND – 3939 Maybelle Ave. Oakland, California 94619

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8 thoughts on “Borrow a book at nationwide Little Free Libraries”

    1. There were some of each. We left only adult books because I tried to leave a kids book that is too religious for my taste, and my 5-year old busted me. (I thought perhaps a more pious Jew would enjoy it.)
      It’s not really like geocaching because it’s not mysterious. The book house is plainly there for passersby to find.

      1. My five year busts me every time I try to pass along one of those “too religious for my taste” books, too! Rabbinical school here we come . . .

  1. Zach and Augie stumbled across the El Cerrito one a week or two ago but then they couldn’t remember where it was, so I haven’t visited it yet. I’m excited to go visit it now that I have the address!

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