On Monday, September 21, 2015, the Center for Literary Arts hosted a dedication and study
break. The occasion? The opening of a “Little Free Library,” created as a miniature replica of the
Van EttenLacy House.
The Little Free Library movement started in 2009, when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a
small model of a schoolhouse and put it on a post in his front yard. It was a tribute to his mother,
an avid reader and schoolteacher. The model was filled with books and a sign advertised “FREE
BOOKS.” Bol built several more and gave them away. Since then, the idea of small libraries
where books are taken and left, all for free, has taken off internationally.
Their mission, according to LittleFreeLibrary.org, is “to promote literacy and the love of reading
by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share
skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.”
The official goal was to reach 2,510 Little Free Libraries (Andrew Carnegie supported 2,509 free
public libraries around the turn of the 20th century), but this goal was surpassed in August of
2012. Today, there are more than 25,000 Little Free Libraries all across the world.
Last year plans began to build our own Little Free Library, culminating in the dedication
September 21st. At the dedication, Prof. Rebecca Entel spoke of the history of the Little Free
Library movement and their Across America Tour, which is coming to Iowa from September 29
to October 2.
Our own library was constructed by Andrew Gemmell, who was present at the dedication along
with his wife and son.
Entel, English Department Chair Glenn Freeman, and Robert P. Dana Emerging Fellow Helen
Rubenstein, among others, were all present to celebrate the opening of Cornell’s newest place to
find a good book. Donations to the library were provided by various faculty members. Several
individuals chose to take a book, leave a book, and simply enjoy one another’s company on the
Future students, staff, and visitors can all search for a new literary gem in the perfect little model
just outside the Van EttenLacy House. As a part of the larger Little Free Library movement,
Cornell has found another small way to promote literacy and inspire conversation amongst
readers of all ages.
Elizabeth Flick–Staff Writer