New “Little Free Library” Opens at Cornell’s Own Van ­Etten-Lacey House














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, 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

beautiful afternoon.

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