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How To Recycle A Book: Little Free Libraries

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

You might never have read those books on your shelf but you can still use them for something useful. 

Do you spend hours walking around Waterstones, looking at all those books you desperately want to buy, but can’t afford first hand? Do you feel books that are torn, crinkled and damp are so much more attractive than shiny and smooth e-readers? Or do you have a pile of comics stacked in your attic that you know you will never open again?

If so, perhaps it is time for you to use (or even open your own) Little Free Library!

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The Little Free Library movement first appeared in the U.S. in 2009 then rapidly expanded to other countries, including the U.K.

The principle behind the initiative is very simple: a wooden box is installed in parks, private gardens, streets, school playgrounds or shopping centers and then filled with second hand books. Anybody that wishes to use the library can do so under one condition: if they take a book, they must leave one in its place.

The stock of books therefore never diminishes, both people who are on the lookout for new reads and those wanting to get rid of some old books can take advantage of this initiative…preventing several thousands of books to end up in a landfill and reducing demand for more to be printed!

So, where do I find my nearest Little Free Library? The easiest way (besides walking aimlessly around town and just stumbling upon one) is to use the map that can be found on the official Little Free Library website.

The tool will enable you to search by postcode, city or country and will give you useful information such as a picture of the book hut, its precise location and the contact details of the person in charge of it. If you can’t find one near you, how about using your creative skills and setting one up yourself?

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What’s in the box? [Image Credit]

Using recycled materials and planks of wood, it’s  relatively easy to actually build the box and it’s a great way to get to know your neighbours better if they want to get involved as well. Place your box with a couple of second hand books at the end of your garden facing the street (you could also put it in a public location, but you would have to ask permission for that).

The Little Free Library website can guide you along the way, it has lots of useful information about how to register and maintain your library. Once this is done, you wouldn’t have much to do except sit back and enjoy watching readers passing by and peeping into the box on their way to school or work.

About the Author: Laetitia Fox is in her third year studying BA Language and Culture at UCL. 

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