Heading down West Sierra Ave. in Cotati, you might notice the Little Free Library outside of the Cotati Rohnert Park Co-Op Nursery School. Installed in October of 2019, it is one of the ten libraries in the Cotati-Rohnert park area registered at littlefreelibrary.org.
Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that was started in 2009 in Hudson, Wisconsin by Todd Bol and Rick Brooks. Todd Bol built the very first Little Free Library, a box designed after a one room schoolhouse, and placed it on a post in his front yard. Bol filled it with books and left it open for anyone to take or leave a book.
Shortly after, Bol and Brooks started their organization with the intention of sharing the experience of reading and bringing communities together. The group’s mission, stated on their website, “inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.” The organization provides a free and accessible pathway to reading, with no late fees, return dates, or costs. The libraries are open 24 hours a day, every day of the week so that anyone can have access.
Bol and Brooks started out by giving away libraries to their family and friends, and soon after, the movement grew. By 2011 there were almost 400 Little Free Libraries, and by the next year, the number had skyrocketed to over 4,000 Little Free Libraries. In 2012, the group officially registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Today, more than 100,000 Little Free Libraries are registered on the nonprofit’s website in over 100 countries across the globe.
The group also provides resources to foster new libraries and grants Little Free Libraries to high-need communities. Anyone can build their own library. Kits and pre-built libraries are even available for purchase. Once a library is built, the owner can register it on the organization’s website by purchasing a charter sign marked with a unique charter number. Once a library has a charter number, it can be added to the world map of Little Free Libraries.
The Little Free Library on West Sierra was constructed with recycled materials from the preschool. It was built so that the school could share the books that pass through their doors with the community. Nine other Little Free Libraries in Cotati and Rohnert Park are registered at littlefreelibrary.org. Check the map on their website to find out where they are located.
Some little street libraries have popped up organically and aren’t registered on the website. On a walk through Cotati or Rohnert Park, passerby might stumble across a neighborhood library that can only be discovered by chance.
Brenna Stevens is a life-long resident of Cotati. She studies writing, politics, and Spanish at Sarah Lawrence College. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and playing.