Have you ever seen the magical tiny houses known as Little Free Libraries?

Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that was founded in Hudson, Wisconsin, in 2009. Essentially, a Little Free Library is like a public bookcase that can take many shapes and sizes. Visitors can take or leave books in the spirit of exchanging knowledge and stories.

Twelve years later, Little Free Libraries have blossomed in cities worldwide, including here in London, Ontario! You can find several using the official Little Free Library map. Turn your neighbourhood walk into a treasure hunt as you search for these gems – and you may find many unregistered libraries along the way!

Three of our Contributors, Kayla Bailey, Emily Stewart, and Vanessa Costa, detailed their thoughts about Little Free Libraries and shared their finds below! Do you have a favourite Little Free Library or operate one yourself? Be sure to let us know!

Kayla’s Finds

With the world being… the way it is, I have had to find reasons to get some fresh air, and little neighbourhood libraries have been that saviour. There’s a little dark brown box filled with books donated by others in Old East Village just off the corner of Queens Avenue and English Street. The deal is if you take one, put another in. It’s like paying it forward with books.

A small structure with a sign that reads Trade Books stands on a grassy lawn on a neighbourhood street.
The cute and colourful Trade Books. Photo by Kayla Bailey.

And if there aren’t any stories that tickle your fancy at this Little Free Library, there’s a Trade Books with more books to choose from! This library on Lorne Avenue off English is a bit more noticeable with the yellow accent and red lettering. Although Trade Books is not a part of the official Little Free Libraries, there are tons of options in the OEV for finding books and likely in your own neighbourhood too!

Emily’s Finds

I saw a few Little Free Libraries in and outside of London over the past few years, so I was thrilled to find out there was one in the Masonville neighbourhood. 

I’m fortunate to live in an area with two book stores and a library within walking distance. I can read lots of e-books on my phone. Nevertheless, I love the sense of community behind the Little Free Library, and I’m always looking for new places to pick up my next read.

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I walked over to Shavian Crescent and was happy to find the Free Little Library. I couldn’t see it when I did Google Street View, so I was worried it wasn’t even there. However, I figured that if I couldn’t get to it, I got to go on a nice walk, worst-case scenario. 

A red and blue little free library full of books standing in snow.
An official Little Free Library in Masonville. Photo by Emily Stewart.

I decided to pick up “The Flight Attendant” by Chris Bohjalian. I’ve wanted to watch the HBO show inspired by the book, but I’m also a firm believer in reading the book first before checking out the show or movie. I’ve always got a ton of books on the go, so it’ll be a hot minute before I can get to it, but I’m looking forward to reading it.

The Little Free Library might have a completely different selection after I return it, so I’m looking forward to seeing that too!

Vanessa’s Finds

Have you ever noticed these beautiful boxes near the houses that may look like mailboxes but are not? Some neighbourhoods in London have their own little public libraries, where anyone can pick and leave a book for free. 

A Little Free Library full of books stands in the ground, doors open.
A magical gateway. Photo by Vanessa Costa.

The books are diverse and can go from novels to fairy tales, from technical to dictionaries, from informative to humorous. Finding these small libraries is like finding hidden treasures in the city. They allow you to open the doors to a fantasy world – the world of literature! 

Exercise Your Body, Exercise Your Brain!

From Oakridge to Argyle, there are lots of official Little Free Libraries to explore, and as our Contributors found, many that are part of the movement in spirit. So lace up your shoes, explore your neighbourhood, and find new literary adventures along the way!

Feature photo by Vanessa Costa.

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