The Hippo


Jul 24, 2019








Doing your part

Are you interested in helping out? 
If you want to become a Little Free Library steward in Nashua, contact Mike Apfelberg at the United Way at
If you have questions about how to acquire and set up Little Free Libraries in your community, contact Jen McCormack at 

Book villages
How communities can bring books to the people

By Ryan Lessard

 Nashua is getting eight Little Free Libraries installed across the city. The outdoor cabinets, each about two or three times as big as a birdhouse, will contain books that community members are free to borrow from or lend into. 

“You don’t check them out. It’s purely an honor system,” said Nashua Public Library Director Jen McCormack.
The tiny libraries have a door and roof and are weatherproof, and they fit a couple dozen books, depending on what kinds of books are in there at any given time — and they can be anything from kids’ picture books to YA novels to adult fiction or nonfiction. The options change continuously as people borrow and give back.
Nashua is the most recent New Hampshire city to launch such an initiative. Concord Public Library had six Little Free Libraries installed in the city with the help of a local Eagle Scout, according to Library Director Todd Fabian. They’re all on public land.
“We picked four city parks and two trailheads,” Fabian said. 
Liz Fitzgerald with United Way of Greater Nashua said Milford and Brookline have a similar program. And individuals have set them up at locations around the state. There are at least about 60 statewide, according to the map on, including five in Manchester (which are not maintained by the city library). And there are likely more since not everyone elects to pay to have their box registered on the national map.
On Aug. 30, volunteers erected the eight Little Free Libraries at places like the Legacy Playground, the Nashua Rail Trail, Labine Park and in front of the Greater Nashua Dental Connection. McCormack said most of the locations they chose are “book deserts,” which are places that have difficulty getting access to books. Many of them will be located about a mile or so from the public library.
“We looked at neighborhoods that are not comfortably within walking distance of the library,” McCormack said.  
Other locations were picked for high visibility like the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd across the street from City Hall and the United Way of Greater Nashua offices.
“I think the population the library is trying to reach are people that don’t come in here but that want books,” McCormack said.
Replicating the program
Fitzgerald said this program has been on the radar of the United Way nationwide as the movement grows momentum and popularity. The United Way of Greater Nashua funded a third of this project. The Nashua Public Library paid for another third and BAE Systems funded the final third. So far, Fitzgerald said, Granite United Way, which services Manchester, doesn’t have any plans to do this in the Queen City yet.
But McCormack said any public library can get started on creating Little Free Libraries on its own. And no surveys are necessary.
“I really think this is such a fun and fairly simple project...,” McCormack said. “I think it should start with the libraries, because we are the ones who pick the books; we know our customers.”
Nashua Public Library bought pre-built Little Free Libraries, but some communities can commission new ones to be made by volunteers or trade school students with relative ease.
It’s costing Nashua about $600 per Little Free Library, which includes the cost of the cabinet, the Dig Safe survey and paying to register the site at, which makes it easily searchable online. P&L Landscaping in Merrimack is excavating the post holes for free.
This project can also be undertaken by any private citizen who wants to install a Little Free Library on their front lawn, which can be particularly appropriate for small towns. 
“If somebody thinks, ‘Oh, this could work in my neighborhood,’ you don’t need the library. You can ask [the local library] for some assistance, but anybody can do it,” McCormack said.
She thinks it’s a fairly low-risk proposition, save for the possibility of the Little Free Libraries being unpopular in spots or vandalized, which is always a risk in densely populated downtown areas. But she said they can always move a Little Free Library to a new location if they find it isn’t getting any use. 
“I think most people appreciate it and I don’t think we should ever let the threat of vandalism stop us from doing projects that we know are good for the community and for the majority of people who live here,” McCormack said. 

®2019 Hippo Press. site by wedu