Little Free Libraries: Open books thrive in Toledo

By Morgan Kovacs and Olivia Fraser


With the rise of technology, demand may diminish for a good, old-fashioned paperback book. In a world obsessed with rushing and multitasking, a good book, that begs for focused attention, slows us down and limits outside distractions feels like a breath of fresh air.

That feeling is why the Little Free Library movement has been thriving in the Toledo area over the past few years. The project aims to increase access to books for people of all ages and backgrounds, inspire a love of reading, build community and spark creativity by exchanging millions of books across the country each year.

One little library can be found near Elmhurst Elementary School in North Toledo, where Chad Stanton built his own schoolhouse themed free little library several years ago.

“I realized there is a generation of kids who have probably never stepped foot into a library,” Stanton said. “I wanted them to have access to real, great books.”


Stanton said his library is a neighborhood hit with a constant turnover of books and kids always running right to it during walks.

These little libraries, with all sorts of designs, sit in neighborhoods and playgrounds around the area, each holding books available for the taking. There is just one catch: those who take a book must leave one of their own — an anonymous book exchange. 

Another Little Free Library stands near Beverly Elementary, in front of Rick and Rosie Sabo’s house. They constructed the little library in 2014.

“We first saw a library in Maumee on Ford Street,” Rick said. “We then researched free libraries and found the site for Little Free Libraries. Ours is a registered Little Free Library with a nameplate.”

“We just wanted to provide to our Beverly neighborhood with the opportunity to read. If it helps one person, old or young, then it is worth the time spent,” Rick said.


Finding the library

When libraries are registered with the website,  they are placed on an interactive map. Anyone can log on and discover Little Free Libraries near their neighborhood, making for a fun outdoor adventure.

Despite the rising popularity of e-readers, tablets and iPads among kids today, Rick said their library is visited frequently. “People use it very often as we are on a busy corner. Since we are on a school route, the kids from Beverly School stop by and look daily. Some people spot it as they drive down South Detroit and turn around and come back for a look and a book.”


Community effort

These little libraries encourage community involvement as it depends on donations in order to continue providing different books.

“Some of the books in the Sabo’s library are donated by neighbors, and others come from Grounds For Thought, a coffee shop in Bowling Green which has a wonderful
program— bring in books, get credit, and receive new books of your choice,” Rick explained.

Finding joy in reading has no age limit, so Free Little Libraries are not just for kids.

When creating the blueprint for their library, the Sabos decided to build two shelves: top for adults, bottom for kids.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, up to 60 percent of low-income families do not have books in their homes for their children to read.

With the Free Little Library movement, people like the Sabos help bring books to those who do not otherwise have the resources.

For Charlotte Bronte lovers, Rosie always keeps a copy of her favorite book, Jane Eyre, in their library.

Other Little Free Libraries in the Toledo Area

Toledo Museum of Art 

These two Little Free Libraries are located on the campus of the museum at 2445 Monroe St. The libraries were donated by the Toledo Museum of Art Library League to encourage an inclusive, accessible, and multisensory campus.

Brookside Chestnut Hill OHMC

Book lovers can find several little libraries in Ottawa Hills thanks to an Eagle Project, including one located at 3498 Brookside Rd., Ottawa Hills.


The Bookhive

The Bookhive is a Little Free Library located at 3802 Elmhurst Rd. The inspiration behind this library comes from the daughter of a man who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and forced into retirement. She always wanted to have a little library, so her dad made this one out of an old kitchen cabinet. It was finished with the help of a friend who recently lost their father and donated the post and paint supplies to the Bookhive.

Ellen Palmer Lending Library

The next Little Free Library was created to honor the memory of Meadowvale Elementary’s reading literacy teacher, Ellen Palmer. To get the community to read a book or help children learn to love books, one of Palmer’s co-workers said, “Read a book. Get caught reading. She would love it.” It is located at 2755 Edgebrook Dr. 


Little Free Library TPA

Students and staff at the Toledo Preparatory Academy manage a library at 824 6th St. It is accessible to those at the school as well as the neighborhood community to improve book access.




Sarah’s Symphony of Stories

A perfect spot to find a new book and read outside, this Little Free Library is located at 2019 Riverview Ct. in a quiet neighborhood, and it even has a bench conveniently located nearby! 



Toledo Police D Michael Collins Station

The Little Free Library inside the Toledo Police Department’s D Michael Collins Northwest Neighborhood station located at 2300 W Sylvania Ave. is an off-the-beaten-path option. The library was established by the Toledo Police Department Foundation to honor their fallen Officers Dia and Stalker.  



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