Sette's daughter Eva Schneiderman, 16, said the Little Free Library was a help to her while she was taking a class called "Literature of the Working Class."

"We were going to read 'The Grapes of Wrath' or '[The Great] Gatsby' and I found a book called 'Working Men,'" Schneiderman said. "We ended up reading that book for class."

Carol Vaeth and her partner, Matt Rinehart, are stewards of a Little Free Library in the 3500 block of Glenmore Ave., near Burdick Park in Northeast Baltimore. Vaeth said the response to the Little Free Library has been mostly positive.

"I was worried that there may be vandalism because of where we lived, but there hasn't been," she said. "I'm very happy about that."

Vaeth said she and Rinehart buy about $8 worth of books every other week to keep the Little Free Library stocked. At first, Vaeth said, she had to consistently restock the library because books were being taken but not returned. One day she decided not to restock and leave the library mostly empty.

"After about a week people started filling it up," she said. "It put the responsibility back on the community so that as stewards we don't have to continually supply it."

Vaeth said their Little Free Library has brought them great joy.

"We have fun doing it," she said. "It's not much of a burden. It's well worth it."

The Village Learning Place, a Baltimore nonprofit library that offers educational programs and other resources, has a Little Free Library in its backyard. Tim Ashdown, an AmeriCorps volunteer who works as a librarian and a leader/coordinator of the adult education program at the Village Learning Place, said Little Free Libraries have a personal element that other libraries may lack.

"When you're picking up a book at a Little Free Library, you know someone else has become a part of that story," he said. "You're getting to connect with someone you don't even know."

Ashdown said Little Free Libraries and other libraries are pushing books back into people's hands in a world dominated by technology and short attention spans.

"People are multitasking all the time," he said. "When you set [everything] down and pick up a book, the book represents a more intentional engagement with the story."

Brooks said that while Little Free Libraries serve primarily as gathering and sharing places and don't provide the services that local libraries do, they have received enthusiastic support and endorsement from public libraries, school libraries and even NPR book reviewer Nancy Pearl.

"We have a bumper sticker," he said, "that says "Libraries Big and Small We Love Them All."


More information

If you're interested in starting a Little Free Library or want to find locations, visit littlefreelibrary.org.