Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

For the love of books, a spotlight on several Little Free Libraries October 22, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


I was delighted to find a Little Free Library near my son’s apartment when I visited him in Somerville, Massachusetts, in May of 2016. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


WHENEVER I SPOT A LITTLE FREE LIBRARY, I feel a deep appreciation for the stewards of these mini libraries.

The ability to read, as I see it, is the foundation of learning. But to read, you need access to books. Not everyone has that, whether by geographical location or lack of money for books.

So those individuals who place a Little Free Library in their yards (or elsewhere) and then stock and restock shelves have my gratitude. They realize the importance of easy 24/7 access to books.


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


I grew up in a rural Minnesota community without a library. I understand what it’s like to be without library books. But thanks to Little Free Library founder Todd Bol, my hometown of Vesta has had a small public library since July 1, 2012. A Little Free Library. Todd gifted that to this small farming town. I am grateful.


A LFL in downtown Decorah, Iowa.


Recently I spotted two particularly distinct Little Free Libraries, one in the heart of downtown Decorah, one of my favorite northeastern Iowa cities. The library sits in a public plaza next to Oneota Community Food Co-op. That it’s barn-shaped seems especially fitting in a primarily agricultural state. A red barn remains an iconic symbol of rural life.

I grabbed a hardcover copy of James Patterson’s Double Cross with every intention of starting to read the book while in Decorah. That never happened and now the book sits on my to-read pile back here in Minnesota. First I need to finish The Girls of Ames—A Story of Women & a Forty-Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow. The national bestseller published in 2009. The book holds special interest for me given one of the women taught journalism at Faribault High School and served as advisor to the student newspaper when my second daughter was co-editor. It’s an excellent read. And quite revealing.

But I digress.



A variety of books for all ages fill an eye-catching LFL posted at 805 State Street in Waseca. It’s designed as a TARDIS, the featured mode of transportation on the BBC sci-fi television show “Doctor Who.” I know nothing about the show. To me, the TARDIS resembles a blue phone booth.



The stewards of the Waseca TARDIS do a great job of visually promoting the LFL with the library now seasonally decorated for autumn and Halloween. Inside, they’ve also stocked Halloween-themed books. They seem to have a lot of fun with their LFL. I expect given its location along one of Waseca’s main arteries that the library is well-used.



What kid wouldn’t be drawn to a mini TARDIS? Or adult for that matter?




I love when folks run with the LFL idea and get especially creative, all for the purpose of getting books into the hands of others.


A cat watched as I photographed the TARDIS LFL.


FYI: This post is dedicated to Todd Bol, who founded the Little Free Library movement and who died on October 18 of pancreatic cancer.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


23 Responses to “For the love of books, a spotlight on several Little Free Libraries”

  1. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    Fun memories of Little Free Libraries I seen in Australia, New Zealand (way out on a windswept country corner), and England.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    Really wish that there was a”Love” button…..”Like” doesn’t do the trick for this post! Our little town has, not only, a fabulous brick/mortar library (with an awesome library attendant, Liz) but many Little Free Libraries!! The best idea ever!!!!!! Next time you head to Decorah, let us know and we can do a “meet-up”!!!

  3. Ruth Says:

    RIP Todd. What a wonderful movement you started.
    And I love your Photo gallery of Little Libraries,Audrey.

  4. Lynne King Says:

    We have a Little Free Library outside our church here in town. We’re a town of 300, so it’s used quite often.

  5. Beth Ann Says:

    Todd Bol certainly left behind a wonderful legacy and has inspired many. Thank you for sharing the love of books!

  6. Almost Iowa Says:

    One always appreciates seeing these libraries – but in a small town, they are a godsend.

    Fabulous idea for a blog post.

  7. Dan Traun Says:

    Love the creativity of each structure. Also greatly in favor of the idea. I’ve seen a few in Red Wing. It doesn’t stop with books either. I’ve seen one by a church advertising coats, hats and gloves. Great idea all the way around.

  8. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    So sorry to hear of Todd’s passing, he left a bit of himself in the little libraries that he founded, it’s amazing how this has taken off an flourished. We have them all over Rochester. I especially like the Red barn library, so fitting for Decorah…. a farming community (My uncle is one of those farmers)

  9. Valerie Says:

    It’s great to see all the different styles of the LFL. Thanks for sharing…I have taken photos of a few myself. The one across the street has landscapes scenes painted on it.

  10. those little book stands make me HAPPY))))) Such a thrill when I encounter them! And the kitty cat watching you. I wonder what he’s thinking? xx from Duluth.

  11. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Love the Little Free Libraries and the kitty that watches over the Tardis. I agree it looks like a phone booth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.