Neighborhood Installs a ‘Little Free Library’

by ARLnow.com October 4, 2012 at 11:05 am 10,243 36 Comments

Arlington has a new library, but you might not even notice it if you drive by.

A new “Little Free Library” was recently installed on S. Edgewood Street, near Army Navy Country Club. The “library” is actually just an old crate — still labeled “Wisconsin cranberries” — with a glass door on the front, mounted on a stake in front of the Fairview Mews townhouses.

Inside the crate are a number of books, mostly popular fiction from the likes of James Patterson, David Baldacci and Clive Cussler. In addition to popular novels, the library has previously stocked children’s books, a baseball history book, and a book of poetry.

Users of the library are encouraged to take a book while leaving one in its place, but it’s all on the honor system: no key or library card is required.

The library was the idea of Robert Walter, a Fairview Mews resident who works at American University.

Walter says he and the Fairview Mews Homeowner’s Association decided to create the library for the neighborhood — about 150 homes located off of Glebe Road and Walter Reed Drive, south of Columbia Pike — after reading an article about the Little Free Library movement on Facebook. The idea of encouraging reading while bringing neighbors together was inspiring, he said.

“[We did this] to promote a sense of community and to promote a love of reading,” Walter said. “I just thought that was a great idea, waiting for a place to go. It’s to meet our neighbors and talk and ultimately look out for each other, as well as to brighten someone’s day with a new book to share.”

So far, Walter says the idea has been a modest hit. About 30 books have been removed and replaced since the library was first installed in August, he said.

More than 2,000 Little Free Libraries have popped up across the globe since the movement started in 2010.


  • nom de guerre

    I wonder how often they disinfect the knob on the door of the crate?

    • GodFila

      No good deed ever goes uncriticized…

    • jefferson

      What a thoughtless comment. The human race survived a long time without the benefit of hand sanitizer.

      • drax

        Stick around and you might get some of the inside jokes here.

        • WeiQiang

          Unless Stodgy McStodgerstein harshes the buzz

          • nom de guerre

            Suitcase buzz or whale buzz or both?

    • JimPB

      Exposure to bugs stimulates the immune system. That’s a good.

    • SHLady

      Yes, I’m sure it’s far dirtier than a thousand other things you touch during the day.

  • jackson

    Saw one of these in Portland, Oregon (of course) about four years ago. I like the idea. It’s like a little used bookstore, and you can see what your neighbors are reading.

  • JimPB

    Terrific! ISO crates for use here in North Arlington.

  • B22201

    They’re very demanding. . .

    “Take a Book!”

    “Leave a Book!”

    They should be a little nicer and use something like: “Please, take a book to read, and we’d like it if you also left one as trade”

    • jackson

      Does the “take a penny, leave a penny” dish make you mad?

      • drax

        I saw a sign that said “Free beer! Take some!” That really ticked me off.

      • Ballstonia

        “Please, take a penny, but only if you are paying for your goods with exact change and find yourself one penny short and would otherwise have to break a larger denomination of U.S. currency in order to complete your transaction. We’d also like it if you left a penny for others if you find yourself with extra change to spare and have taken a penny from the dish in the past or plan to do so in the future.”

        • MBM

          Yes, be sure to sanitize those pennies too!

      • B22201

        Like you wouldn’t believe. I hate when The Man tries to tell me what to do.

  • Not Me

    I gererally try not to be cynical, but I wonder how long this will last before someone either:

    a. Steals all the books OR b. defaces the box.

    Feel free to add any that I may have missed.

    • Serious

      Well, it’s lasted two months so far. I think the idea behind using cheap materials is so that it’s not a big deal if someone messes it up. I walk through that neighborhood all the time and always see a few police cruisers parked along the street so there must be some cops who live in that area.

      • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

        I’m certain the county will find a way to regulate it out of existence.

        Is it handicapped accessible?

        Is the sign permitted?

        Who monitors it for inappropriate material?

        • Hollywood

          unfortunately this^

    • drax

      The homeless will be sleeping in that box soon.

    • Fairview Mews

      You can’t “steal” a free book.

  • what a great idear!

  • novasteve

    If someone puts a copy of Huck Finn in it, will there be tantrums thrown?

  • YTK

    I LIKE!!!

  • novasteve

    Would Catcher in the Rye be okay?

    • Cartman

      What about The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs?

      • Id

        I loved the sequel The Bloody Stump from Ibeit Urcocoff

  • NoVapologist

    I like this idea. I noticed that this library does not appear on the Little Free Library’s map or list of locations.

  • Hank

    I put an adult magazine version of this book crate in my neighborhood.

    • Trolly Troll

      Now the first comment makes any sense.

    • What ??

      Is it close to a 7-11 and do you also leave out a trench coat ??

  • McNasty

    Excellent! Now I have a place to stash my smutt!

  • HughJassPhD

    I love these. But I’m still waiting for someone to return my Kindle.

  • Id

    Can’t wait for the Hustlers to be added to the box.

  • Fairview Mews

    We have registered this Little Free Library with the organization. I’m not sure why it’s not on their map locator yet.

    If you would like to have one like this, you can buy a library pre-made from the organization, http://www.littlefreelibrary.org/, or make your own.

    Feel free to stop by and visit, borrow, or donate!


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