“Take a book, leave a book” –that’s the motto of Leeds’ Little Free Libraries.
After Carry Franklin installed the first Little Free Library in 2017, she was taken-aback by the ‘incredible’ community response. One and a half years later, Leeds is home to 34 of the libraries, spread throughout the Greater Leeds area.
Leeds’ Little Free Libraries are totally free flowing book-exchanges. Each library takes the form of a small cabinet on the side of the street. Each cabinet holds around 40 books, and for absolutely no cost, anybody is free to borrow or donate them.
Jacky Fleming, another artist who is part of the Leeds Little Free Library core team, has said that the boxes “feel a bit like political acts”, combatting the “tide of commercialism, hate, fear and selfishness – they’re the opposite of that”.
After spotting a little library in London, Franklin enlisted the help of joiner David Ayres to set up the first Little Free Library on Alma Road, opposite Lupton accommodation.
The libraries have proved very popular. Franklin has said that the boxes are never depleted, and showcase an ever-changing selection of books.
She continued: “Every time I leave the house there are different books in there and someone is standing outside it. It’s constant.”
“With 34 little libraries already up and running, and another 15 commissioned, we are hoping to make Leeds the city of the Little Free Library”.
Some Little Free Libraries are funded by individual donors, and others by local businesses. In the past, the project has also secured funding from Leeds City Council’s Leeds Inspired scheme, Leeds Community Foundation and Leeds University RAG who kindly donated £500 to the building of a little library in Beeston.
The Little Free Library team are collaborating with Found Fiction for this year’s Leeds Lit Fest. From the 4th to the 11th March, ten of the Little Free Library boxes will contain a notebook and pen. Visitors to the Libraries can co-create a story, one which represents their area of the city.
Living in the digital age, where technology is becoming more and more important in the lives of young people, it’s refreshing to see such a project encouraging children, and adults, to read books.
Leeds Little Free Libraries provide a great, fun means of engaging people with reading, and hopefully have a bright future ahead of them.