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'Little' Libraries Became a Big Deal

Paul VanDerWerf
One colorful little free library

The idea was deceptively simple: create a small structure where people could leave books they were okay parting with and find new literature, like a take-a-penny-leave-a-penny jar, just with books. Less than a decade after the first was erected, 20,000 have sprung up in 75 countries. Margret Aldrich, a little free library devotee, says the concept feels weird at first blush.

"Being a Midwesterner, at first it felt a little strange. Can I really take a book out of someone's front yard? Is that okay to do? But I quickly learned what the movement's really about and I've loved having a little free library in front of our home."

Margret Aldrich loved it so much she decided to not only make one of her own, but write "The Little Free Library Book" chronicling the spread of the small literary structures throughout the world.

In this Talk of Iowa interview, Aldrich, a native of Ogden, talks with Charity Nebbe about the theory behind little free libraries, most remote libraries she discovered, and the only thing she'll censor in her own little free library.

"I have pulled out a dating guide for teenage boys that was such bad advice that I thought I was doing all the boys and teenage girls in the neighborhood a favor by pulling that one out."

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa