I had a really interesting visit with Todd Bol, founder of Little Free Library, at his studio in Hudson, Wisconsin.
The visit was the result of my initial blog post on Dec. 17, 2012 titled A Little Free Library for Woodbury! and the resulting article In search of little libraries in Woodbury published in Woodbury Bulletin on Jan. 2, 2013.
After reading about my desire to put a Little Free Library (LFL) in Woodbury and on the LFL map, Todd Bol offered to donate one to me. He invited me to visit him at his studio to check the different options and pick one.
The Little Free Library studio is located at 573 County Road A, Hudson, Wis. Even though I was familiar with LFL and had read about it many times, I didn’t realize that the birth place and the center of the Little Free Library movement is so close to Woodbury. It’s less than 30 minutes of driving.
Bol grew up in Lake Elmo, Minnesota and now lives in Hudson, Wisconsin. His family went to the Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale. The Little Free Library at the Church is dedicated to his father.
Bol used to build his little libraries on the deck at his home. Only two months ago he moved his studio into the current warehouse location.
“It’s nice to be able to work indoors in winter now,” Bol told me.
Several little libraries outside the studio.
Bol showed me the one-room studio that has a stairway leading to the open second floor on one side of the room. It is a typical workshop.
There are finished but mostly unfinished little libraries. He said I could pick anyone I wanted, depending on how much work I was willing to do myself. Being a person who is not very handy, I decided to pick a ready made one.
I picked the one with the sign “Friendly by Nature, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.” Blue is not the color I would prefer, a green color would be nicer since nature is green, and reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle is about green living, but I just loved the sign and what it conveys. This Little Library combines my passion for library and green living in a perfect way.
Bol showed me the first little library he was making for Africa. They have a partnership with Books for Africa and will be building more of them.
We had some time to sit down and talk. I learned about Bol’s interesting background.
Bol is a social entrepreneur and economic modeling specialist. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with majors in Education and Psychology and Sociology. He was a middle school teacher for a 5 years. Then he was a sales manager at Corporate Trade Center (a former 3M division).
Bol is the founder of several businesses/organizations, including EPT Cadre, Global Scholarship Alliance, and Care Forth, Inc. But what made him world famous is the Little Free Library.
“My passion is to create and develop self sustaining models that move economics, culture and society forward,” Bol said.
Bol is indeed “a transformational leader who can crystallize a vision with greater clarity, have more people see it, support it, align with it, contribute to it and join its final creation,” as his former clients said about him.
The Little Free Libraries have brought positive social changes.
They have far exceeded the oirginal goal of 2510 Little Libraries. The conservative estimate of Little Free Libraries in the world is between 5,000 and 6,000 in 36 countries. Around 800 are in Minnesota alone.
They have been in more than 900 media articles, news broadcasts and blogs reaching tens of millions of people. Nearly two million people visited LFL website; between 4,000 and 32,000 per day. The movement has nearly 21,000 Facebook subscribers, growing by 300 to 400 each week.
Two new documentary films were released: Because It’s Small and A Small Wooden Box: The Little Free Library Movement. They are on Youtube along with 30 other videos.
Bol is now known around the country and world, yet he remains a very down to earth, humble guy. I love what he is doing and also his generosity and humility. Bol was so kind. He not only donated the library to me, but also offered to help me install the library. What an honor for me to receive such a generous gift!
I left Bol’s studio with a really cool little library, an armful of books, much appreciation for Bol, great excitement about the future of Little Free Library, and a strong desire to help it grow.
My next job is to find a location for my little library.