Small Wonders: 11 Facts About Little Free Libraries

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iStock

Less than a decade after the first Little Free Library was built in 2009 and erected in a Hudson, Wisconsin front yard, the simple book-sharing concept has grown into a global movement through which millions of books are shared each year. Today, Little Free Libraries has more than 70,000 sites and can pop up in the most unexpected places. Read on for more facts about Little Free Libraries.

1. THERE IS ONE COLLECTION WITHIN THE WORLD'S LARGEST LIBRARY.

Library of Congress

A Little Free Library stands in the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. In 2015, the Little Free Library nonprofit was recognized by Library of Congress Literacy Awards for “best practices” in creating a community of literacy.

2. YOU'LL HAVE TO PADDLE OVER TO AT LEAST ONE LITTLE FREE LIBRARY LOCATION.

Photo courtesy of The Recorder and Times

On Honey Bee Island, in the St. Lawrence River on the border between Ontario, Canada and New York, boaters can pull up to this dockside Little Free Library and take a book. Made from wood, birch bark, and cedar shakes, it may be the only Little Free Library that is water-access only.

3. ANOTHER COLLECTION HAS ROCK 'N' ROLL TIES.

In Nashville, Tennessee, Jack White’s record label, Third Man Records, and publishing house, Third Man Books, have a Little Free Library out front as a way to share books with visitors, fans, and members of the surrounding community. It’s customized with Third Man’s signature colors: black, yellow, and white.

4. YOU CAN FIND ONE IN MORE THAN 85 COUNTRIES.

Little Free Library located in Pakistan.Courtesy of Little Free Library

There are Little Free Libraries on every continent but Antarctica, in dozens of countries from Iceland to Vietnam to Morocco. (See more on this world map.) This Little Free Library in Pakistan is one example of how other countries share books with neighbors.

5. NOT EVERY LITTLE FREE LIBRARY IS STATIONARY.

Photo courtesy of Sally Gore.

An enthusiastic reader and bike rider in Worcester, Massachusetts, has a Little Free Library on the back of a three-wheeled bike. This bicycle bookmobile is filled with free books for neighbors to share—wherever they might be found.

6. THE LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT USES THE BRAND TO HELP KIDS.

Los Angeles Police Department

If you’re a kid (or even if you’re not), a police station can seem like a scary place. The Los Angeles Police Department has Little Free Library book exchanges in nearly all of its precincts to engage kids in a positive way and promote reading through Little Free Library’s Kids, Community, and Cops program.

7. SOME LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES CAN HELP YOU READ BEACHSIDE.

Little Free Library located in Long Island Beach, California.Courtesy of Little Free Library

In Long Beach, New York, beachgoers can find some summer reading in Little Free Libraries sponsored by the Long Beach Public Library. The Little Free Library nonprofit has worked with more than 600 public libraries, who use Little Libraries for community outreach, and has been honored by the American Library Association.

8. THE 50,000TH LITTLE FREE LIBRARY HAS CHARITABLE INTENTIONS.

Photo courtesy of Little Free Library

Little Free Libraries can sometimes be found at homeless shelters, where readers from all walks of life can find a book to keep. The 50,000th Little Free Library, pictured here, was donated to the Illumination Foundation—which works with homeless clients in Santa Ana, California—via the Little Free Library organization’s Impact Fund.

9. YOU CAN FIND A FEW IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS.

Photo courtesy of Emilia, Bennett, Erin, and Andy Mead

Visit a campground in Manitoba, Canada, and you might come across a portable, mini-tent library in the woods. The Little Free Library travels around with the Library steward on camping trips.

10. THE COLLECTIONS HAVE MADE THEIR WAY TO COLLEGE CAMPUSES.

What kind of books do you think you’d find in a Little Free Library on the Harvard University campus? The university is one of several institutions of higher learning that hosts a Little Free Library, allowing students to trade textbooks, novels, and everything in between.

11. A CONTEST BROUGHT UNIQUE DESIGNS TO THE BIG APPLE.

Photo courtesy of PEN American Center

An architecture contest sponsored by the PEN World Voices Festival and the Architectural League of New York inspired 10 modern Little Free Libraries that appeared on the streets of New York City, including this cheery yellow one. (There is now a nearly-identical Little Free Library in Thessaloniki, Greece.)

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

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As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

A New Book by J.R.R. Tolkien Contains Previously Unpublished Essays About Middle-Earth

J.R.R. Tolkien photographed circa the 1940s.
J.R.R. Tolkien photographed circa the 1940s.
Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

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It has been more than 80 years since J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit first appeared in bookstores in 1937—followed by The Lord of the Rings trilogy during the mid-1950s—and the enthusiasm for all things Middle-earth doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon. While the premiere date for Amazon’s prequel TV series hasn’t been announced yet, another important date in 2021 has: June 24.

On that day, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) will release The Nature of Middle-earth, a book of heretofore unpublished writings by Tolkien himself. (HarperCollins will publish an identical edition in the UK.) As avid fans likely already know, this won’t be the first supplemental Middle-earth material in existence. Tolkien wrote prolifically about his fantasy world, and much of his other content was published posthumously—most notably The Silmarillion, an extensive collection of stories edited by Tolkien’s son, Christopher. As literary executor of his father’s estate, Christopher Tolkien edited and oversaw the release of most Tolkien works until his death at age 95 in January of this year.

Time to solve the mystery of which Middle-earthers can grow facial hair.Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

According to Gizmodo, The Nature of Middle-earth was edited by NASA computer engineer Carl F. Hostetter, who also happens to be a venerated Tolkien scholar and the head of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship (E.L.F., for short). HMH revealed in a press release that this latest compilation will contain previously unknown details about “Elvish immortality and reincarnation,” “the Powers of Valar,” “the lands and beasts of Númenor,” and “the geography of the Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor.” It will also reportedly clear up the confusion over which races (and sexes) can grow beards in Middle-earth, a topic that crops up on internet message boards with surprising frequency.

U.S. residents can pre-order The Nature of Middle-earth from Amazon now for $24.

[h/t Gizmodo]