Book Nook: Little Free Libraries in Des Moines -

Book Nook: Little Free Libraries

A couple of years ago, we noticed a new “attraction” on one of our walks.  It was a brightly painted little “house” like structure. The little building beckoned us to open the door and we found it full of books.  We had never encountered one before and were so excited to read what it was (and grab a few books). It was our first Little Free Library experience.  Since, then we’ve noticed them popping up in neighbor’s yards, by the little league field and several other places around town. 

So What is a Little Free Library?

According to, a Little Free Library is a “‘take a book, return a book’ gathering place.” It comes in all shapes and sizes, but it is essentially a weatherproof box full of books where anyone can stop by and exchange one book for another.

Little Free Library, as it is known today, began in Hudson, WI, in 2009. The movement has quickly expanded to an estimated 10,000-12,000 neighborhood libraries around the nation, with thousands more being built. The libraries come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have common goals: to promote literacy and create a sense of community.

Getting Started

How to Find a Little Free Library

Go to and click on Find in the menu bar. It will take you to a map, which allows you to search by Your Location, Zip Code, City/State/Province/Region, Country or Owner’s (Steward’s) Name. I typed in Des Moines and several of the surrounding communities in the metro.  Grimes was the only community that didn’t have any Little Free Libraries listed.  Better get on it Grimes….or if you have one, please list it, so we can all find it:)!

How to Build & Register a Little Free Library

If you don’t have your own neighborhood Little Free Library, it’s easy to get started. All you need is a weatherproof container, a good spot in your front yard where passersby can see it and some books to share.  The Little Free Library website does provide information and step by step building plans and on how to install your Little Free Library.

The Little Free Library organization does not have any rules about what your Library may or may not look like, but your city or home owner’s association may. Be sure you have the appropriate permissions before installing your Library.

To protect the Little Free Library name and quality of the Libraries themselves, the name is registered and trademarked. You must have an official charter sign and charter number on your Library in order to legally use the name Little Free Library and its common variations.

Only Libraries with official charter signs and numbers can be photographed and displayed as part of the Little Free Library network. This is the only way they can track, monitor, support, fund and celebrate your efforts.

Once again, you can go to to get inspired and to register your own library once it’s up and running.


Have you come a across a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? 


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