Coming soon: a Little Library near you

The first of three Little Free Libraries built by Cleveland Heights business Silsby Stained Glass and Woodworking. Photo by Sheryl Banks.

Heights Libraries has become part of a small movement with big potential: Little Free Libraries.

Little Free Libraries are just that—small, house-like structures containing books for people to borrow or exchange. The concept is similar to that of those “take a penny, leave a penny” bowls you see by cash registers. If you take a book, bring another book to replace it. Or, just return it. Little Free Libraries can be located on yards, tree lawns, street corners—just about anywhere they can fit.

The first Little Free Library has opened at the southeast corner of Elmwood and Sylvania roads, near the Noble Neighborhood Library. “We’re fortunate that a former children’s librarian volunteered to be a steward for the first one,” said Sam Lapidus, Heights Libraries coordinator. “She’ll work with the Noble branch manager to keep the box well stocked with gently used children’s and adult books that have been donated or culled from our collection.”  

Two more will be opened over the next few months. The project is another way for Heights Libraries to encourage reading and literacy, and encourage members of the community to engage with one another.

Part of the charm of the Heights Little Free Libraries are the structures. A Cleveland Heights business, Silsby Stained Glass and Woodworking, is building them, and is donating the labor and using mostly recycled materials.

The roughly 3’ x 3’ structure at Elmwood and Sylvania roads looks like an elegant playhouse, with solid wooden walls and real roof tiles to keep books dry in all kinds of weather. It has leaded glass doors, which have written on them: “Take a Book, Leave a Book.” In an age of e-books, this Little Free Library is refreshingly low-tech.

According to the Little Free Library organization map at, Ohio currently has five of the structures, including one in Cleveland on West 82 Street.

“Little Free Libraries are a great way to get people excited about books and talking about them at the neighborhood level,” said Lapides. “The people who live in Cleveland Heights and University Heights are passionate about reading and literacy, and also about their neighborhoods, so this project fits in to our community perfectly.”

Sheryl Banks

Sheryl Banks is the marketing and community relations manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library.

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Volume 5, Issue 8, Posted 11:45 AM, 07.24.2012