Campus News

Exchange Books, Build Community on Campus With 'Little Free Library'


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 21, 2014) — New libraries are popping up around Lexington, and the latest location is in front of the University of Kentucky College of Education’s Taylor Education Building. These libraries – which look like birdhouses – don’t require library cards or late fines, don’t insist that patrons whisper or stay quiet, and don’t mind if you do not return a book.

Known as the “Little Free Library,” each library functions as a “take a book, return a book” gathering place. Anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. The libraries provide educational and outreach tools for civic engagement, social and environmental issues.

The Little Free Library program’s website notes that its mission is to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide, and to build a sense of community by sharing skills, creativity and wisdom across generations. The Little Free Library (LFL) movement started in 2009 in Wisconsin when one man built a model schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, filled it with books, and put it on a post in his front yard. By January of 2014, the total number of registered LFLs worldwide was estimated to be nearly 15,000 with thousands more being built or planned.

The College of Education’s Little Free Library has been in the works for more than two years, made possible by the vision of Wendi Keene, formerly of the YMCA. Keene donated this Little Free Library to the UK literacy education program and dedicated it to the memory of Rob Taylor, a resident of the High Street YMCA who was often referred to as the "Mayor of High Street."

He believed strongly in literacy and education, and he also loved UK and was a huge fan – at his funeral, his casket was covered with his favorite UK blanket and his favorite UK hat. Keene’s son is the artist who painted the Little Free Library to reflect both Taylor’s love of gardening and the values of the YMCA.

The UK literacy education faculty envision that this Little Free Library and the texts that are exchanged will reflect both the values of UK’s literacy education program and who we are as a community. Literacy comes in all shapes and sizes – in addition to circulating books, the goal is to share whatever it is that we read, including magazines, comics, cookbooks, fiction or nonfiction.

The UK community comes in all shapes and sizes, too – young children and retirees and everyone in between. The community includes students and faculty and various businesses, including speakers of Spanish and Arabic and Mandarin, among others. Literacy faculty hope that this library will reflect all of these aspects of what the diverse members of our community read.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396,