ST. PAUL NOTES | Take a book – they’re free at Little Free Library in St. Paul


Take a book, leave a book — that’s the motto of the Little Free Library, an organization begun by Todd Bol in Hudson, Wisconsin. The Little Free Library arrived in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood in St. Paul in September, thanks to Sage Holben, who is supervising the Little Free Library at 4th Street and Bates, when she’s not working in the Metropolitan State/St. Paul Public Library a few blocks away.

“These libraries are ‘planted’ in front of homes and become part of a neighborhood investment,” Holben explains. “People can take a book and replace it when done, and/or add others.” She thinks this is the first and only Little Free Library in St. Paul, though she has heard that there might be one on Portland Avenue.

“It’s a means of not only connecting neighbors and neighborhoods, but promoting literacy and especially reading as a major part of life,” Holben explained on E-Democracy.

A couple of weeks ago, Holben and a 13-year-old friend drove to Hudson and spent a Saturday constructing their Little Free Library, under Bol’s supervision. The following Monday, Bol came to St. Paul, dug the hole for the post, and planted the library. Since then, Holben reported, there has been a steady stream of library users.

“Some young girls are regulars there, maybe twice a day,” she said. “People who walk through the neighborhood enjoy it.” Books in the library range from dictionaries and copies of the constitution to children’s books and recipe books. 

Bol’s website has drawings and instructions for people who want to build their own. He asks that if someone uses plans, they send in $50 and register it so he can keep all the library locations on a map. Any donations go to “pay it forward,” allowing him to help more people to build and plant their own Little Free Libraries. To contact Bol, go to