aestheticsIssue 19

Inspiring Spaces: Little Free Libraries

By Noel Daniel

Most will remember the story of the boy who read junk mail because his family didn’t have the means to buy books. It’s a sobering fact, that not everyone can access books as readily as they want. Thankfully, Modesto residents Michelle and Jared Oller have a hand in fixing that: They have a Little Free Library.

“People who go to the school, they bring their kids by every day,” Jared Oller explained. “They stop their cars and 2014-10-01 22.19.35grab a book.”

The free library is in reality a little wooden house posted in the Oller’s front yard, but it’s one that consistently draws in the neighborhood children.

“They like to come down here and hang out, grab a book,” said Jared Oller.

The movement was started in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin. He built a scaled-down schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother. After posting it in the front yard, he filled it with free books and it was a hit in his neighborhood. It didn’t take long for it to spread.

There are over 15,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide. All 50 states, as well as 40 countries, have become involved in the program. And the best part is that anyone can be involved. All you need to be a volunteer for Little Free Libraries, or “steward,” a little library of your own to post in a public place. Most choose to put it on their property. All libraries must be registered so that others can find them, but the process is very simple.

Those looking to become a steward can either build their own library like the Ollers did, or choose from a number of library styles on the Little Free Libraries website. Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, even hand-drew a number of his well-loved characters onto a brightly-painted yellow library. The piece goes for $1,000, but if you’re up to buying it, the creator himself will personally deliver the library and take the lucky library owner out to dinner.

There are currently three other Little Free Library locations in Stanislaus County. Two sit in Turlock, with one located on 1805 Guatavita Drive and the other on 2690 Castleview Drive while the last is also in Modesto, on 1432 Stetson Avenue. So if you’re up to a drive and in need of a book, mark your map and choose your literary adventure.


For More Information, or to Locate Other Stewards, visit


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