Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sad news.

“We have difficult news to share with all our Lake Worth Little Free Libraries friends.”

The message from Mary Lindsey.

“Todd Bol, the creator and founder of the Little Free Library worldwide book sharing network has entered hospice care in Minnesota. In early October, barely two weeks ago, Todd was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Following the first (and only) treatment with chemotherapy, peritoneal cancer was also discovered.

“Todd created the first Little Free Library in 2009 as a tribute to his late mother who had been a teacher for many years. He built a small replica of a one room school house, put a door on it and filled it with books. He put it on a post pounded into his front yard with a sign on the door announcing Free Books! In the next few years he built lots of Little Book boxes for his neighbors and in 2012 he formed the nonprofit organization, Little Free Library.

“Today there are more than 75,000 Little Free Libraries planted in neighborhoods across more than 88 countries around the world.

“Todd gave an interview following the initial diagnosis with his hometown newspaper, The Minnesota Star Tribune headlined: After cancer diagnosis, Little Free Library founder feels like ‘most successful person I know’.

“We in Lake Worth are feeling so blessed that we had the opportunity to meet Todd and his brother Tony as well as board member Margaret Bernstein when they came here last April and spent a week with us celebrating BiblioArte!

In conclusion Mary writes,

“We remain committed to continuing Todd’s legacy of building community and sharing books.”

To send a message to Todd Bol click on this link
or send a letter to:

Todd H. Bol
C/O Little Free Library
573 County Road A, Suite 106
Hudson, WI 54016

Below, just by coincidence. . .

Prior to learning the latest sad news is a blog post from earlier this month about Todd Bol and his recent visit to this City of Lake Worth for the BiblioArte! festival, the work done by Mary Lindsey to promote Little Free Libraries here in Palm Beach County, and all those critics, malcontents and ankle-biters who are never far behind.

What follows is the most-read blog post the month of October. And per the tracking stats shows no signs of slowing down.

And important information: If you reside in the City of Lake Worth, suburban metropolitan areas, or further west to the fine City of Greenacres and have books you would like to donate (especially children’s books!) please call 561-585-6035 or email:

Without further ado. . .

Todd Bol, the founder of Little Free Libraries, takes on the divisive critics and those derisive malcontents too.

The news published in the School Library Journal (SLJ) by journalist Taryn Venner Ashe is a must-read. Below are several excerpts. At the end of this blog post is more information about the writer of this piece in SLJ and the link to read the entire account.

Of special note: Lake Worth resident Mary Lindsey is quoted in the SLJ, the news datelined Sept. 26th. Lindsey, if you didn’t know, first introduced LFLs to Central Palm Beach County in 2015 (read more about that below). The LFLs are now literately and literally spreading all over the County now. A lot faster than ‘red tide’ ever will and will stay around a whole lot longer too.

Before we go forward, let’s take a step back.

So why are people criticizing Todd Bol, as reported in SLJ “[T]he vitriol aimed at the organization, much of it coming from literacy advocates?” Why are the skeptics asking open-ended carping questions about the LFLs?

Because Bol is effective. That’s why. He is changing the world for the better one day at a time. And that’s what has all the malcontents tied up in knots.

For example, from April of this year is an excerpt from The Lake Worth Herald about Todd Bol and the BiblioArte! Festival in Downtown Lake Worth:

BiblioArte! celebrates Little Free Libraries with hands on activities, music, a walk through a Little Free Library Village, and a presentation by Todd Bol, founder of the Little Free Library movement.
     The festival marks the end of Little Free Library week in Palm Beach County. This special week is celebrated through personal appearances Todd Bol will be making in Lake Worth schools and events around the City. Home to more than 100 Little Free Libraries, all hand painted by local artists, Lake Worth is an example of how community volunteers can come together to encourage reading through book sharing in their neighborhoods. [emphasis added]

Makes one wonder, doesn’t it? What exactly do the critics have a problem with? But enough about them.

Click on image to enlarge:

Outside Lake Worth City Hall during the annual BiblioArte! Festival, flags flying full mast: Furthest is flag for State of Florida, flag of United States of America and closest is the Little Free Library flag.

The Little Free Libraries in Central Palm Beach County first got started in January 2015 in the City of Lake Worth by Lake Worth resident Mary Lindsey. Read more about Mary Lindsey’s efforts, an article published in the LFLs official website titled, “One Small Town, Over 100 Little Free Libraries” by reporter Megan Blake-Horst.

Since 2015 the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with the LFLs and they have spread west as well, for example, the City of Greenacres now has a LFL program and it’s gotten much encouragement from government and community leaders.

Without further ado. . .

Excerpts from feature
story in SLJ:

There are over 70,000 registered Little Free Libraries (LFL) in all 50 U.S. states and in more than 80 countries. The tiny boxes full of books are sometimes mistaken for miniature dollhouses and birdhouses. Some are constructed from scratch, others born from recycled materials. They can be found in front yards, public parks, and elsewhere.

and. . . 

However, there have been quite a few derisive portrayals of LFL stewards as privileged do-gooders who do nothing but promote their own book collections. I could not believe the vitriol aimed at the organization, much of it coming from literacy advocates. [emphasis added] Some public librarians have complained that LFLs mostly appear in wealthy neighborhoods that already have free books available through public library systems. I wanted to know how the company responded to such negativity, so I contacted the headquarters. A few days later, founder Todd Bol spent an hour on the phone chatting with me.

Bol admits the LFLs will never be enough in some critics’ eyes. Even though they are recognized by the Library of Congress, they do not exist to replace public libraries; in fact, many public schools and libraries sponsor LFLs in their communities.

Pull Quote:

Bol sees LFL stewards across the globe as watchers — they don’t aim to eradicate illiteracy on their own, but to support literacy where they can.

the final excerpt. . .

Bol believes that the strength of LFL lies in its stewards, particularly in cities such as Lake Worth, FL, where there are 30,000 residents and more than 100 LFLs in seven square miles. The broader Lake Worth literacy success story lies in its community involvement, according to lead steward Mary Lindsey. Begun in 2015, the literacy initiative has support from the city’s Vice Mayor, the Palm Beach County School District, which donates books annually to LFLs, and the Palm Beach County Sheriffs, who run a mobile book program. Lindsey’s exuberance traveled over the phone as she told me how the Lake Worth community was “fertile ground already with the generosity of neighbors. What our LFLs did was take away the boundaries that existed in neighborhoods.”

More information about the author and the publication called “School Library Journal”:

  • The author Taryn Venner Ashe, “is a mom, a high school English teacher, and a writer, who is learning to juggle all three jobs gracefully.”
  • To read the entire article by Ashe click on this link.
  • Information from Wikipedia: “The School Library Journal was founded in 1954 as Junior Libraries after breaking off from Library Journal. The first issue was published on September 15, 1954. Gertrude Wolff was the first editor.”

Another thing about LFLs. . .

Always remember!
“Take a Book  ~  Leave a Book”.

Do you have a book or books to donate? Call 561-585-6035 or email: