Little Free Libraries: A Development All of Denver Can Get Behind!

The little library, much better kept than the yard around it.EXPAND
The little library, much better kept than the yard around it.
Patricia Calhoun

I've been obsessed with the little libraries popping up all over town for months, in places as prominent as the corner of 12th Avenue and Lincoln in front of History Colorado and as obscure as overgrown alleyways in Sunnyside. The little libraries — where people offer books for trade, for free — reportedly got their start in 2009, when Wisconsin's Todd Bol built a model of a one-room schoolhouse, put it on a post in his front yard and filled it with books as a tribute to his mother, a former schoolteacher who loved reading. That history is on the Little Free Library website, where you can also find plans, a map showing the locations of more than 32,000 little libraries around the country — and register your own for $40 a year.

But there are also plenty of sites offering free advice (including the Denver Public Library site). I went the maverick route: My father built and installed my little library last week. (Note: the Holly Creek men's woodworking group could do a big business in these.) We put the little library in my (yes, unkempt) front yard on a historic block in LoHi, but many of Denver's little free libraries are located on the strips between sidewalks and the street, known as parkways/hell strips/tree lawns. Technically, the city owns these stretches — but Andrea Burns of Denver Community Planning and Development assured me that the city will not clear-cut any libraries placed there.

After all, this is the kind of development all of Denver can get behind.


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