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GTPulse: Little Free Libraries of Traverse City

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The idea for Little Free Libraries began in 2009 when Hudson, Wisconsin man Todd Bol constructed a miniature, one-room schoolhouse and filled it with books. The schoolhouse sat outside of his home and was a tribute to his mother who had worked as a school teacher and loved to read. He encouraged his friends and neighbors to come by and grab a book when they needed one. They loved the idea so much that many of them reached out to Todd asking if he would build a schoolhouse for the front of their yards too. A program outreach manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison named Rick Brooks liked Todd’s idea too. He and Todd both shared a love for the idea of small-scale, public spaces where people could have access to books no matter what. Their inspiration came from coffee shop bookcases that always seemed to have a rotating selection of books being left behind and picked up by cafe customers. They were also inspired by Andrew Carnegie, who had dedicated much of his fortune to funding public libraries all across the country. Carnegie’s goal was to fund 2,508 libraries. Todd and Rick set out to surpass that. They officially started Little Free Library as a nonprofit in 2010, and by 2012 had surpassed the 2,508 mark.

The first official Little Free Library put up outside of the Hudson area was placed on a bike in Madison, Wisconsin in 2010. The high traffic area made the library a quick hit. In 2012 Traverse City became home to Michigan’s first official Free Little Library. It was sponsored by Traverse Area District Library and was placed on Spruce Street. There are a little over 20 Little Free Libraries in Grand Traverse County, some are registered and some aren’t. Registration isn’t necessary to put up a Little Free Library of your own. However, registering with Little Free Library gets your library its own number and plaque.

The Little Free Libraries across town are so much fun to find. From plain and simple, to mini versions of the homes they belong to, Traverse City is home to a lot of wonderful Little Free Libraries. Though there’s no official website to locate them all, Norte has a where people have pinned where they have seen them in the five-county area.  Whether you’re looking for a new book to read, or just want to admire some cool craftsmanship, here’s a lookbook of some different TC Little Free Libraries.

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