A Bibliophile Birdhouse in Green Lake

November 5, 2014 6:17am


On a little patch of lawn on Green Lake Dr. N, nestled between Ashworth Street and Densmore Ave. N., is a quirky grasshopper-green birdhouse perched atop a wooden post. Its whimsical design and vibrant colors spark curiosity, a pause and a smile from all passersby.

But…you won’t find birdseed or chirping creatures in this little house. Rather, peer through its glass window and you will discover that it is brimming with books. Welcome to Green Lake’s very own Little Free Library!

Find yourself in need of a book on a Sunday evening? No worries! Accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the Little Free Library is always open for business.

Just what, you may ask, is a Little Free Library? Here’s the scoop: To put it simply, it is a box full of books where anyone can stop by and pick up a book (or two)—and, if so inclined, leave a book to share.

According to the official website, the Little Free Library began “in 2009 when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS. “

Todd dreamed that 2,500 similar libraries would be constructed by 2014. He underestimated; today there are already more than 10,000.

Not surprisingly, this burgeoning literary movement has firmly taken hold in Seattle. A recent article in the Seattle Times estimated that our city now has approximately 130 Little Free Libraries.

You never know where you might find a Little Free Library. Ranging from simple structures to elaborate constructions, each library is unique can be considered “a piece of neighborhood art.” As the official website states, Little Free Library stewards (volunteer caretakers) are in charge of their libraries and decide what type of books to stock.

The day I “visited” the pint-size Green Lake library I was met with a selection of books that would satisfy any reader’s voracious appetite: from award-winning heavy hitters like Angela’s Ashes to a beautiful garden book to a children’s joke book. Someone had even tucked in the latest issue of Vanity Fair.

The Little Free Library website maintains a map of library locations and provides detailed instructions for using the libraries, as well as a list of FAQs .

These little libraries continue to sprout up all over our neighborhoods, and we would love to hear from you of any recent sightings, or if you are a steward of one of these tiny book hutches. Let us know, and happy lending!