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I happen to be a huge fan of Free Little Libraries. Ever since I found out about the program, I think it’s a great way to have community connection and bring people books.

We have one in my town and I visit it every so often. Currently it is actually a free little food pantry which is something that I think other Free Little Libraries have been doing. Instead of books, they’ve been offering other items. I’ve even heard of some that offer cleaning products and toilet paper.

However, unlike a traditional library, Free Little Libraries (FLL) are maintained by the community. They can be as snazzy or unkept as the community decides. One person might take it upon themselves to maintain it or the whole community might.

In this way, FLL are a great community resource. And I’ve seen them inspired little food banks and bring new books to my attention.

FLL are great community resources because they help promote literacy among every in the communicate, promote positive social interactions, promote good values, and help local businesses in the area.

However, they also have some draw backs.

Because FLL are maintained by the community, they’re not going to be held to the strict standards our public community libraries are.

This brings about a couple of issues during the Pandemic when kids and families are stuck at home and might not feel safe leaving their house that much.

While I don’t think public libraries are going to be the place someone catches the virus at (unless you insist on hosting or attending a public event there), going anywhere that involves other people can be challenging.

In this way, I think FLL can be really beneficial to the community. You don’t have to be around groups of people to get books, they’re generally outside which already decreases your chances, and the materials inside are not going to be touched by as many people.

But since it is maintained by the community, everyone is responsible for keeping it cleaned and maintained. So if you want to check it out but I don’t think anyone else has tried to cleaned it recently, I would follow the recommended safety measures.

Lately, I’ve been curious about the FLL program and if they have anything to say about the current situation so I found the Free Little Libary’s recommended guidelines on their website for Covid-19.

In it, they state that the CDC has updated their guidelines to say that the chances of catching Covid from a nonporous hard surface is low.

So if you’re going to check out your FLL, bring hand sanitizers, alcohol based wipes for the handles or keys, and stay your distances away from other community members. But they are not concerned about transmission from paper based materials.

Book Riot wrote a handy article about how to disinfect books in case you’re concerned about the materials you’re bringing home.

Some of their main points were:

  • Be careful about wiping down book covers with Lysol wipes. Most are somewhat water resistant but never soak the covers. Don’t wipe down the interior of the book. Make sure it’s dry before shelving or storing.
  • Time is your best friend. The virus doesn’t live long on surfaces, so you can put the books in a time out for a day or two before picking up to read.
  • Don’t microwave or apply other heat to books. Paper is fire prone.

So going to your local Free Little Library during the Pandemic should generally be pretty safe as long as you take a couple extra precautions. This is great because reading is good for our wellness and learning.

I would recommend if you’re donating books to put a variety of books and materials in there. I mostly always see kids books donated which is absolutely great, however adults using the spaces as well. So I think it’s always great when I see adult oriented or YA books in them as well.

I also love the idea of using them as both a free book resource and a mini pantry for the community. Many people around us might be needing the extra help and we don’t even realize it.

You could also add in some school supplies since a lot of kids are going back to school and a lot of families have been hit hard by the Pandemic.

If you have a Free Little Library in your community, have you gone to it during the pandemic? Have you taken or donated anything other than books?

3 thoughts on “Are Free Little Libraries Safe during the Pandemic?

  1. Oh, I love these FLLs, wish we had them here in China! But it’ll probably not work out well for me as the book selection would be mainly Chinese 😂 The mini pantry/essentials is a wonderful and sweet idea. Makes me wonder why people never did this before the virus. Looks like every cloud does have a silver lining!

    P.S. I also wipe my books down with 75% alcohol. What a time we now live in! Then again, I sanitized 2nd hand books even before the pandemic, haha 😁

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    1. I wish they were more world wide too! You could start one and then submit it! But yes, I wonder as well! My church has had a mini food pantry right outside for years before the virus! I think it’s a great idea especially since I know some food banks are not always accessible. It’s a crazy world for sure! I never santizied my secondhand books (clothes I do though), but I was all worried about bringing in book bugs or something like that!

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