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And the Little Free Library Goes to…

When we dreamed up our Little Free Library contest, we didn’t know what to expect. Of course we loved these mini-monument to books and modern architecture, but they are heavy pieces of cedar and they come with a significant responsibility: keeping the library stocked and the books coming and going. We really wanted to make sure the libraries went where they were needed, so the application was a long one, asking all applicants to tell us where the library would be installed, how they would keep it full, and what need it would be filling in their community.

The response was humbling. 700 entries from all corners of the country poured in…from Washington State to Florida, Texas to Michigan, and even Hawaii. Some of the communities were urban, some were suburban, and some were very rural, such as a “one red light town” in Pennsylvania.

But what was most striking was the earnest library appreciation that drove the applicants to want this charge. Here are some quotes from the applications we received:

“I have many happy memories of spending time in a library, finding a certain treasure or a great source of information, reading, taking notes, working on my end-of-college paper. As soon as my son turned 4 and could write his name, I took him to a library and we got him a card.” —Elena Coln

“They fueled my love of books. And some of my fondest memories of my late father are the Saturday afternoons we spent at the library. Mind you, this was a man with a grammar school education…and English was his second language. ‘Grammata, Grammata’ (the Greek word for ‘Letters’) was among his most frequent prompts to us kids growing up.” —Pauline Hammerbeck

“I love the communal aspect of libraries. I feel like they foster a sense of responsibility that we seldom see these days in everyday life. You take care of a library book because you know that there are others who will want to enjoy it after you.” —Hannah Guillory

“Books are magic to me. They create personal, private yet connecting experiences for every reader who interacts with their pages. I believe there exists a perfect book for every person and every situation.” —Katie Hartman

“Libraries have always been my lifeblood. They represent democracy, freedom of speech, and informed citizens.” —Micki Uppena

“When my Wheaton Public Library was closed for three months, I brought a folding chair and a sleeping bag to be the first inside the door when it reopened. It was a very cold February day, but, luckily, my celebratory home-baked cookies didn’t freeze solid.” —Lori Mulligan Davis

Needless to say, it was terribly difficult to choose, and this contest drove home the point that no one should have to. So we’re giving away an architectural rendering so you can build your own. Download below:

Little Free Library Plans

Finally, these particular Little Free Libraries will be going to the following the following new stewards:

Kwadjo Boaltey of Little Rock, Arkansas: “I love how libraries feel. I love visiting them on my own because they offer a deep peace and intellectual stimulation I get nowhere else. I can trace some major developments in my life to libraries (and the specific ones I visited).”

John Nelka of Reading, Pennsylvania: “I believe the most important parts of my education took place not in a classroom, but within the stacks of the various libraries I have frequented. They are perhaps the last bastion of true and pure democracy, allowing access to ALL people.”

We will be checking in with the winners once the libraries are installed to see how they are doing.

Thanks to everyone who entered. You’ve won our hearts with your love of books, and we hope you’ll check out littlefreelibrary.org for information on how to start your own. Little Free Library is also in the midst of a Kickstarter that runs through May 21, so if you care about bringing books to library-less areas, donating is a great way to help.

And now that we’ve caught the LFL bug, there will be more Little Library fun to come! Keep reading.

Kathryn Jaller

Associate Director of online strategy at Chronicle Books and art/craft/cat lady. You can follow her at @kholler.

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