HUDSON, Wis. (AP) — It started as a simple tribute to his mother, a teacher and bibliophile. Todd Bol put up a miniature version of a one-room schoolhouse on a post outside his home in this western Wisconsin city, filled it with books and invited his neighbors to borrow them.
They loved it, and began dropping by so often that his lawn became a gathering spot. Then a friend in Madison put out some similar boxes and got the same reaction. More home-crafted libraries began popping up around Wisconsin’s capital.
Three years later, the whimsical boxes are a global sensation. They number in the thousands and have spread to at least 36 countries, in a testimonial to the power of a good idea, the simple allure of a book and the wildfire of the internet.
“It’s weird to be an international phenomenon,” said Bol, a former international business consultant who finds himself at the head of what has become the Little Free Libraries organization. The book-sharing boxes are being adopted by a growing number of groups as a way of promoting literacy in inner cities and underdeveloped countries.