This is about our Little Free Library in Freeland, Oxfordshire, UK. This community project was grant aided by West Oxfordshire District Council.
How to choose which books to put in the Little Free Library?
Many LFL stewards like to follow themes, for example displaying romance novels or books about love during the time around Valentine’s Day, or paying attention to National LGTB History Month, Black History Month, etc, and displaying books accordingly. I have dabbled in this slightly; during the run up to Christmas, I put a selection of Christmas-themed books out in the Little Free Library, and tried a similar approach during Halloween. In both cases, this proved to be popular with children, but a bit hit and miss with adults. During both, I did not remove other kinds of books, but rather just added some seasonal books into the mix.
Other than seasonal titles, I have also tried a few themed weeks. For example, I did a week of non-fiction for adults, and also tried to showcase just one publisher (I displayed only books published by Penguin). Neither of these experiments were particularly successful, I think because the choice of books offered by the Little Free Library was narrower than usual.
Similarly, I hosted a local publisher, Fircone Books, who kindly sent us a selection of their books and materials. For one week, I only displayed their books and materials, in exchange for them donating the books to the Little Free Library. It was fun to promote a local publisher in this way, and it would be nice to be able to do the same for other local publishers, perhaps a couple of times a year.
I don’t have to think as much about the children’s shelf in the Little Free Library, other than trying to have a selection of books that are aimed at different ages, from baby to preschooler, early readers, to older children. Interestingly, I have noticed that teens don’t seem to visit the Little Free Library at all; the school bus stops right outside our home, but I have yet to see any of those teens stop by to see what’s inside. There isn’t a dedicated “teens” or “young adult” section in the Little Free Library; those books are displayed alongside the children’s ones, which perhaps discourages that age group from browsing.
Lately, I have been ignoring the idea of having themes, and instead have been focussing on trying to consistently offer a good selection of books for adults. What do I mean by “good”? I simply mean that I maintain a broad selection of titles and genres, so that, hopefully, visitors will find something that they’d like to read. I have noticed a higher turnover of books when I have tried this approach, so I’m going to continue with this for now. I’m fortunate to have a large collection of donated books, that enables me to cherry pick a wide selection to be displayed each week.
Generally, it is very difficult to predict which books will be popular. However, there is one genre which never fails, and this may surprise you to hear this, but cookbooks are always a big hit. They fly off the shelves!
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