Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Remembering with gratitude Todd Bol, founder of the Little Free Library October 18, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:13 PM
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The Redwood Falls Gazette editor Troy Krause, right, interviews Todd Bol, co-founder of the Little Free Library in Vesta in early July 2012.  Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.


TODD BOL DIED ON THURSDAY from pancreatic cancer.


The beautiful handcrafted LFL donated to my hometown of Vesta. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.


I met him briefly in July 2012 when he drove three hours from Hudson, Wisconsin, to my hometown on the southwestern Minnesota prairie. He delivered a Little Free Library, fulfilling my life-long dream for a library in Vesta.


The team that worked to bring a Little Free Library to Vesta includes Dorothy Marquardt, left, and Karen Lemcke, representing the sponsoring Vesta Commercial Club, LFL co-founder Todd Bol and me (holding a copy of a poetry anthology I donated). Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012 by Randy Helbling.


I shall be forever grateful to this visionary’s gift of a mini library and books. My mom used that LFL. So did extended family and others in and around the small farming community. Folks operating the Vesta Cafe expanded the library, placing shelves inside the restaurant for more books. Locals tended the outdoor library Bol installed near the cafe entrance.


The LFL Todd and Susan Bol installed outside the community owned Vesta Cafe. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.


Now, all these years later, the founder of the Little Free Library leaves a world-wide legacy of literacy with 75,000-plus officially registered libraries in 88 countries.


The books Todd Bol and I placed inside Vesta’s LFL on July 1, 2012. He brought books donated by several Twin Cities publishers and I brought books from my personal collection. I have since collected and donated an additional 40 books. A retired librarian from nearby Wabasso donated eight bags of books, primarily mysteries and the cafe managers also donated books. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.


And one of those is in my hometown because one man cared enough about a small town in the middle of nowhere to deliver the seed plant for the Small Towns Minnesota LFL Movement. Because of Todd’s generosity, his kindness, his love of books, my hometown has a library. As a lover of books, of the written word, I am grateful.


One of many Little Free Libraries in Faribault, where I’ve lived since 1982. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


TELL ME: Are there Little Free Libraries in your community? I’d like to hear your LFL stories in honor of Todd Bol.

FYI: Click here to read the original post I wrote about Todd’s visit to my hometown to install the LFL.

PLEASE CHECK BACK to see a memorable LFL I spotted recently in Waseca.


© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


19 Responses to “Remembering with gratitude Todd Bol, founder of the Little Free Library”

  1. I love these small libraries! I even saw one this summer here in The Netherlands. Not sure it was his creation or a knock off – but I still got a cool plant book from it. I have donated to these libraries in MN when I have come across them and pulled some great books for my travel reading pleasure. Sad to hear he has passed on but wow- what a lasting legacy!

  2. Claudette Says:

    We have those here in Toronto’s west end! There’s two in my ‘hood that I know about, one right up on my street. And there’s one at the college next to us next to a Tim Hortons coffee shop. They are adorable and so useful. My daughter stops there daily on her way home from school. 😊

  3. There are Free Little Libraries here. I want to work on getting one in our neighborhood park. Happy Reading 🙂

  4. Valerie Says:

    What a great story about getting a library into your home town. And thanks for telling about the founder of The Little Free Libraries.
    We have three free libraries within two blocks of our house.
    My friend put one in her neighborhood…at child’s height and put children’s books in it.

  5. Littlesundog Says:

    This is such a wonderful idea! I wish it would catch on everywhere!

  6. Neil Says:

    I’ve seen a few of them here in Missouri, including one in our town. The selection of books in the one that I checked out was rather disappointing. Books come in lots of flavors!

  7. […] Remembering With Gratitude Todd Bol, Founder Of The Little Free Library  (Minnesota Prairie Roots) […]

  8. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I’d love to have one of these in my neighborhood. Getting books to read in my area means usually buying them and reading them on my kindle. The public is allowed to use the schools library but the adult book section is very limited

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