Wednesday, 19 Dec 2018

‘Little Free Library’ Founder Todd Bol Has Passed Away

Little Free Library

Todd Bol, the man who founded the Little Free Library and started a movement that has spread worldwide, has died of cancer at the age of 62.

Bol died October 18, less than a month after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was also diagnosed with peritoneal cancer and went into hospice care soon after.

Often described as resembling “dollhouses on a stick,” Little Free Libraries are often erected in front of people’s homes, who volunteer as “stewards” of the library. The little houses are stocked with books which anyone can borrow on an honor system, and many even leave their own books to share with others. They have become wildly popular fixtures in many communities.

Days before his passing, he gave one of his final interviews to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, in which he reflected on the Little Free Library’s impact around the world.

“If I may be so bold, I’m the most successful person I know,” Bol told the Star Tribune. “I stimulate 54 million books to be read and neighbors to talk to each other. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the very definition of success. I wouldn’t switch my existence for Jeff Bezos or any of it.”

Nine years ago, Bol took the wood from his old garage door and made the very first Little Free Library. Word of his project spread quickly, and then it went viral on the internet. He created a non-profit that organized and established over 75,000 official Little Free Libraries in 88 countries around the world.

The concept has even expanded, with some law enforcement using their police cars as “bookmobiles,” and service projects tied to books on a certain cause. What Bol started as a way to honor his late mother, a teacher, has become something that is bringing the world closer together, one little library at a time. Not a bad accomplishment for a man with dyslexia, who often found it difficult to read.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if every Little Free Library could connect you with tutoring?” Bol said. “There are so many different ways of using Little Free Libraries as a spark within the community.”

Even though Todd Bol is gone, the vision of the Little Free Library continues. Thirteen employees now work for the non-profit, working to add more libraries around the world. Todd’s brother Tony is taking over as the face of the organization. The chairwoman of the board is taking over day-to-day operations.

The dream will live on.

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