Little Free Libraries & Bookstores in Bloomsbury

A Really Lovely Little Free Library

A  lovely Little Free Library

People cannot get enough of Little Free Libraries.

The movement started in 2009 in Wisconsin when Todd Bol built a bookcase shaped like a a one-room schoolhouse. Today, there are 25,000 Little Free Libraries. You can buy kits at

At least five new LFLs have been built here in the last month.  The stylish LFL pictured above represents a big commitment.   The owners have  built a brick patio on the edge of the sidewalk and installed a bench painted with phrases like “fairy tale” and “short story.” The basic birdhouse-on-a-stick-style LFL is well-stocked:  recent titles ranging from Women in Love to Ordinary People to Memoirs of a Geisha to The Old Curiosity Shop.  There is a big turnover.

The bench has phrases like

The bench has phrases like “fairy tale” and “short story” painted on it.

Very attractive, isn’t it?  I’d love a Little Free Library, but there are already five in my neighborhood.

A well-stocked library.

A well-stocked library.

Not all are in quite such good shape, though.  On the trail, there is a Little Free Library shaped like a general store.  But it needs donations.

Little Free Library on the  trail

Little Free Library on the trail

The good thing:  most of the books have been taken.  The bad thing:  no one replaces them.

Here is the shelf today.

This one needs to be stocked!

This one needs to be stocked!

Good God!  It needs to be stocked,

Do you want to shop for books in Bloomsbury (London)?  I do.   In the “NB” column  in the July 3 issue of the TLS,  the writer J.C. entertains us with news of new author plaques and bookstores “hidden away”  in Bloomsbury.

J.C. writes :

Across the street from Empson’s old place is Judd Books, specializing in bargain academic, but with remaindered poetry and fiction in dubious abundance. In adjacent Leigh Street resides Collinge & Clarke, with a hint of the Old Curiosity Shop, a place for seekers after private presses, periodicals and rear first editions.

And then he writes about Skoob.  (I have been there.)

Here are the overflowing shelves, the arcane subject headings, the musty smell, the foreign languages on the floor, the grumpy staff—so much a feature of Skoob that we’d take offense at a warm welcome—the piano we’ve never heard played.

Booksellers are often so grumpy!  In Jonathan Lethem’s hilarious story, “The King of Sentences,” two pretentious bookstore clerks (who snub their customers, as bookstore clerks do everywhere) try to write perfect sentences and stalk a reclusive writer they call the King of Sentences.  (The story is in Lethem’s new book, Lucky Alan and Other Stories.)

J.C.’s excellent column in the TLS is unfortunately not available free online, but you can buy a copy or read it at your local library.  And here is a link to the TLS website.

6 thoughts on “Little Free Libraries & Bookstores in Bloomsbury

  1. Those libraries are wonderful – I wish we had them over here, but I think they would risk being vandalised…. I could easily restock a few! As for the bookshops, I too have visited and loved Skoob, but the others are new to me so thanks for the hint! 🙂


  2. We don’t have anything like Little Free Libraries in the DC area and I’ve never seen them in NYC. We have bookmobiles — libraries in buses. Thank you for alerting me to July 3rd JC. I so enjoy my TLS; I wish more were online so I could share it with others. I live vicariously through what I read and how it enables me to imagine others and places.

    We are not too hot here today. I like some of your book covers. What device on wordpress do you use to get them on the side that way?


    • The Little Free Libraries are very sweet. The trick is to have them in a neighborhood where people walk. Some are popular; some are not. They need care:)

      There are Widgets called images. Some blog sidebars will support them, some not. It’s very confusing…


  3. I just received a notice that our local bookstore is having a Little Free Library event this coming Saturday. I plan to attend. There will be a presentation by two little library owners and a wood worker who I suspect must make these gems. I am looking forward to hearing what they have to say. I would love to have a little library on my street. My neighbors are quite bookish and I think we could keep it well stocked.


    • Oh, Belle, how nice that a bookstore would support this! I’m sure it will be fascinating. They do well when people take care of them. Wow, a woodworker! I’ll bet he’s done some amazing stuff.


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