Take a Book, Leave a Book: Little Free Library program aims to build community, inspire readers

Billed as the world’s largest book-sharing movement, Little Free Library is a nonprofit that “builds community, inspires readers, and expands book access for all.” Through a global network of more than 100,000 volunteer-led little libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year. The premise of the neighborhood book exchange is to encourage anyone to take a book and leave a book. 

According to the Little Free Library’s website, there are nine registered little libraries in Conway. One of these libraries belongs to Annie Grimes, a Conway native and a junior at the University of Central Arkansas.  

Annie’s Little Library (Charter #104033) is located at 301 Salem Road at the entrance of the Tucker Creek Trail. She discovered the Little Free Library program when she saw the little library at the Village at Hendrix. When boredom set in during the summer of 2020, Annie decided to steward her own Little Free Library. 

“I thought it was really cool, and I had been trading books in the one at the Village for a while. I got involved just because I thought it’d be fun to have my own.” 

As a creative writing major, Annie liked the idea of being able to change out the catalog and have free books for the community to share. She chose the Tucker Creek trailhead at Salem Road as the location because of the bicycle and pedestrian traffic in the area and emailed Trey Price, parks superintendent at the Conway Parks and Recreation Department, for permission to set it up. 

“I wanted to put it somewhere where I thought I would have a lot of people passing it,” Annie said. “And I thought the bike trail would be a good choice for that. They got back to me super quickly. It was a really easy process.” 

Once she got the go-ahead to place the little library at the Salem entrance to Tucker Creek Trail, Annie’s dad designed her box, and Annie helped him build it. Her friend, Lila, who is a graphic design student at UCA, painted the box as Annie requested – a pinkish watermelon color with light and dark greens accented with flowers.  

A person is sitting on the grass in park reading a book on a sunny day in front of a "Little Free Library" that's filled with books

Photo credit: Bella Bryson

The next step was for Annie to develop her catalog. She frequents the St. Joseph Flea Market for used books and also has been given books from people looking to clean out their bookshelves. 

“They have lots of great books at the flea market. It’s really fun for me to go shopping for books.” 

Annie says most people follow the “honor code” and leave a book when they take one, which is in line with the mission of the Little Free Library program. The exchange also keeps the catalog fresh with new options. Annie’s Little Library serves all ages and has a good balance of kids’ books and books for older readers. 

Annie has established an Instagram account for Annie’s Little Library where she posts book reviews and catalog updates. She also created a comprehensive post that chronicles other little libraries around Conway. You can find Annie’s Little Library on Instagram at @annieslittlelibrary.  

There are two ways anyone (including you!) can start a Little Free Library:

  1. Build your own and register it at littlefreelibrary.org.
  2. Buy a kit or pre-built library from littlefreelibrary.org

Conway’s Nine Little Libraries 

Annie Grimes has created an Instagram account for Annie’s Little Library, where she posts book reviews and catalog updates. In one Instagram post from September 20, 2020, she shared images and locations of Little Free Libraries in Conway, which are also included on the Little Free Library World Map at littlefreelibrary.org. Each box has a story of its own. 

Charter #10433

Annie’s Little Library
301 Salem Road
Conway, AR 72034 

This Little Free Library is located at the Tucker Creek trailhead on Salem Road. Visit instagram.com/annieslittlelibrary for Annie’s book reviews and catalog updates. 

Charter #69550 

Julie Olson 
1400 Padgett Road 
Conway, AR 72034 

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Woodrow Cummins Elementary School, this Little Free Library was installed in 2018 with part of the money that was raised from the students’ successful read-a-thon. 

Charter #104481 

The Soap Box Laundry Service 
155 Farris Road 
Conway, AR 72034 

When the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette went all digital, its steel, newspaper vending boxes were left empty. After securing permission from the newspaper, the box in front of a laundromat across from UCA has been repurposed into a Little Free Library. 

Charter #71384

Marotte Stop 
344 Conway Boulevard 
Conway, AR 72034 

This box is chartered to a self-proclaimed bibliophile and community-minded individual who invites people to enrich their minds and spirits by reading. 

Charter #90404

The Village at Hendrix 
865 Ellis Avenue 
Conway, AR 72032 

The Little Free Library that inspired Annie to start her own was built in memory of Sally Bethel Ferguson, a book lover and beloved member of the neighborhood. Sally was also a dog lover, so there is a hook on the exterior of the little library for a dog’s leash. 

Charter #52837 

Cyndi Minister 
2850 Prince Street, Suite J 
Conway, AR 72034 

Described as a “crafty free library,” this Little Free Library is located inside The Twisted Purl, a local yarn shop. It is filled with knitting and crochet books among others. Donations of extra pattern books are welcome. 

Charter #26858 

Little Free Library 
11 Raccoon Trail 
Conway, AR 72032 

A family who relocated from northwest Arkansas wanted to bring a Little Free Library to their new neighborhood to foster fellowship and friendship. 

Charter #56854 

Tammy Russell 
33 Rolling Creek Circle 
Conway, AR 72032 

Tammy knew she wanted to start her own Little Free Library after seeing one, so she and her husband built and designed their own. She purchased books from flea markets to enhance their collection. 

Charter #94112 

Little Free Library 
34 Ranchette Road 
Conway, AR 72032 

This article first appeared in the 2021 Conway+ Community Profile & Resource Guide. 

A Little Free Library in someone's yard.

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