They are in your neighborhood, inside malls, surrounding your local parks and outside your dentist office. There are more than 90,000 in the country, and Denver has more than 500 of them — Little Free Libraries. The project started in Hudson, Wisconsin 10 years ago, and since then, the idea has picked up like wildfire and spread to all 50 states and 91 countries. The idea is simple: if you take a book, then leave one behind for another reader.
Denver was one of the first major cities to have Little Free Libraries popping up, even before cities like Boston, New York City and Portland. In 2017, Denver received an award from the Little Free Library that recognized it as a City of Distinction in its commitment to the project. Here’s a look at nine of the best Little Free Libraries in Denver — you can find the locations of these wonderful libraries by typing the charter number into the Little Free Library Map.
Neighborhood: Cherry Creek
The Lowdown: Sari Horovitz’s Little Free Library experiences a lot of foot traffic, as it’s at an intersection of two neighborhoods. On one side, there’s a neighborhood with single-family homes, and on the other, there’s an apartment complex with a diverse population. Sari’s library features two levels — the top for adult books, and the bottom for taller children’s books. She says that children’s books move the most quickly in and out of her library. Sari hopes to have more Spanish language books in her library, as those show up less frequently. Sari’s most memorable encounter with a “borrower”— or someone visiting the library— was with a man whom had just been released from jail and was looking for a book that would help him relax.
The Lowdown: Calling all Doctor Who fans— you’re sure to love this TARDIS-inspired library. It was built and designed for Kristin Bergquist by her husband, Dave Harper. The two dedicated the library to Krisitin’s late brother-in-law. He is the one who introduced her to Doctor Who, and he had a lifelong passion for reading. Many borrowers seem to be Doctor Who fans, as well. There have been many notes left behind showing affection for the themed library. Kristin enjoys visiting other libraries in the area to see if there are any books she thinks the borrowers in her neighborhood would enjoy.
Neighborhood: Park Hill
The Lowdown: Little Free Libraries are also a way for businesses to give back to the community. Live. Laugh, Denver. Real Estate Group sponsors this library which is located close to both Columbine Elementary School and Prep Academy. Students are some of the most frequent borrowers, but the library also has plenty of reading options for older readers, too. The real estate group sponsors this library with hopes of encouraging creativity and inspiring its neighbors.
Neighborhood: Park Hill
The Lowdown: Judy Alley is a retired school library media specialist who has always loved reading and the connections she’s gained with others because of a shared love of it. For her 70th birthday, her family gifted her a Little Free Library. Her grandchildren have grown up loving reading, too, and books are often the topic of their conversations. Judy’s library is one of several in her neighborhood. Her library has allowed her passion for sharing books to carry on past her days of working in grade schools.
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
The Lowdown: This beautifully painted, three-story library was built by Todd Clough, the Executive Director of the Denver Inner City Parish. The library sees many borrowers on a daily basis, as it is located right next to Lincoln Park. Todd decided to build the library when he realized the parish’s neighborhood would benefit if there was a way for people to get books in a free and easy way. He is an artist, which is easy to see when you notice the attention to detail on the bird-themed library.
Neighborhood: DU area
The Lowdown: This library is at the perfect crossroads to guarantee plenty of users, and a diverse population, too. The Pioneer, a popular destination for DU students, is nearby. Observatory Park is also a block away, lending the books to all the park-goers. The books switch out frequently, as the beautiful flower painting on the front catches the eye of all who pass.
Neighborhood: University Hills
The Lowdown: This library has a ridiculously fast turnover for books. It’s located right on the edge of Cook Park, which ensures many pass by it every day. It was started by a teacher, Jan Kilick, and her husband. Jan has always seen the importance in not only teaching students to read, but also in giving students a range of literature that appeals to everyone. In the first ten days of opening her library, Jan saw almost every single book become overturned with new arrivals.
Neighborhood: West Highland
The Lowdown: Not all Little Free Libraries are outdoors. This one is inside a Bed and Breakfast, BookBed. It’s above BookBar, so there is an abundance of new material to be added by generous travelers. You never know where a book from this shelf has traveled from since the bnb sees guests from all over the world.
The Lowdown: This collection is right outside the doors of Stanley Marketplace, making it the perfect hub for a diverse group of readers. Sazza, a local family-owned restaurant, sponsors this library. The restaurant embraces eco-friendly practices, and it sees the library as an extension of this in the community. Stanley Marketplace is home to food vendors, boutiques, salons, bars and all of the people that come to visit them. This makes the reading selection you’ll find here exceptional because it is as varied as what you’ll find within Stanley itself.