Little Free Libraries Take Root in Wallingford

Lower Wallyhood's Little Free Library

Lower Wallyhood’s Little Free Library

This past summer, I spent too much time browsing the boards on Pinterest, and subsequently developed an infatuation for Little Free Libraries. The brainchild of a man in Wisconsin who built the first one as a tribute to his late mother (a librarian), the concept has been spreading like wildfire. By July, there were enough local LFLs to merit a write-up in the Seattle Times. At the time of that article, no LFLs were recorded in Wallingford. I wanted to do something about that.

I checked out the Little Free Library website, and even went so far as to scavenge some leftover pieces of Trex from a neighbor’s deck project. I planned to magically (and quickly) assemble these into a waterproof little library for my front yard. From there, I would infuse the neighborhood with dog-eared copies of the classics, left-leaning political treatises and urban farming must-haves. Oh, what one English major, armed with power tools and a surplus of books, would accomplish!

This English major is, however, married to a more pragmatic engineering-type who insists on things like, “not sinking a post where it might kill our tree or damage the plumbing” and (get this) working from “an actual set of plans.” And while plans are available on the Little Free Library website, they don’t include any information on making modifications to accommodate scavenged Trex. And so, my pile of Trex remains heaped by the side of the house waiting optimistically for next summer. I just need to bribe said engineer-spouse into moving the LFL to the top of his priority list!

Luckily for the neighborhood, someone further down Bagley Avenue North has erected a Little Free Library of their own! My heart skipped a beat when I drove past it a couple of weeks ago. I returned to it with my young children last week to admire its fine construction (solidly built, and not disrupting any tree roots, gas lines or pipes). It contains a fine smorgasbord of recipe books, martial arts books, travel books and political/economic books. Now my political manifestos and great works of literature can begin a new life without having to wait for summer!

I also discovered that upper Wallingford has its own LFL, thanks to this handy Little Free Library Index. It’s caretaker, Diane, told me that hers was in place in time for National Night Out in August. Diane’s LFL was created by her brother as a way for them to remember their mother, Phyllis, who passed away in June. Their LFL contains children’s books which Diane purchases at Goodwill. She lets the neighborhood children know that they don’t have to put a book into the library unless they want to – they can just take books as they need them. In nicer weather, Diane sets out chairs by her LFL so that readers can sit and enjoy their new books. She has recruited two neighborhood children to tend the library when she is away so that it is never empty. She says that it’s been an “absolute pleasure” having the LFL in place.

Knowing how many of my neighbors love books, libraries and free stuff, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more LFLs within our borders, or at least a few in the works. Leave a comment here if you know of one. Seems like a great theme for an official “Wallingford Walk” as well!

You can find Wallingford’s little free libraries on Bagley Ave. N between 36th and 37th, on N. 47th St between Wallingford and Burke, at 5738 Ashworth N, at 3634 Woodlawn Ave N, and at at 1831 North 57th St.


  1. yesyes said,

    can anyone make a list of the places which are having New years parties?
    Are some places open til 3 am? Which?
    Are there any bars with specials?
    Who is open New Years day?
    Where can I get mood enhancers? I dont have medical insurance.. low income part time worker.. look for me in front of QFC some day

    Sun, December 30 at 4:32 pm
  2. nono said,

    Re comments from yesyes, which have nothing to do with LFL info. Perhaps you might read the post and obtain an idea of an activity for N Y Eve/Day.

    If you DON’T want to possibly end up in front of QFC some day, consider other activities that don’t cost anything or very little, such as reading a great book, inviting a friend to cook dinner with you, watch a movie on TV, play a board game, go for a walk…just to name a few. These activities are natural, positive “mood enhancers” that don’t require medical insurance, rather than those you requested information about which can definitely influence one’s need for perscribed mood enhancers and affect one’s employment possibilities.

    Start the New Year with positive action rather than continuing your current cycle. What have you got to lose?

    Sun, December 30 at 6:23 pm
  3. Julie said,

    Where are these LFLs in Wallingford located?

    Sun, December 30 at 8:01 pm
  4. Sea said,

    There is one on the 1800 block of N. 47th St (between Wallingford and Burke); not sure of others in Wallingford. Here’s the link to Little Free Library’s map, which is fun to explore:

    Sun, December 30 at 8:22 pm
  5. Sea said,

    Oops, sorry to duplicate map info, which was in the original post!

    Sun, December 30 at 8:23 pm
  6. Kimberly said,

    Thanks Sea! The other one is in lower Wallingford on Bagley between 37th and 36th. It’s not on the map yet.

    Sun, December 30 at 9:23 pm
  7. laineyk said,

    I have wanted to do a magazine LFL since first seeing an English phone booth made into one … I need someone to make me a box! ???

    Mon, December 31 at 12:24 am
  8. abigail said,

    please tell us about more LPL locations in Wallingford. i could not bring up any from the google map link.

    Mon, December 31 at 1:05 am
  9. Breadbaker said,

    Interestingly, we ran across one that is associated with the local public library in Melbourne. It’s not really “little” in that it’s an unrented space inside a large and popular mall, but it’s quite large and very,very busy. We donated a few books to it.

    Mon, December 31 at 2:05 am
  10. wo ho momo said,

    how do we get ahold of the owner.mod of the group? An article about that which i asked would be timely and pproproate.
    I feel the mood enhancer phrase, which due to my non getting high age is funny… it was applied ot me.. so I am laughing with it.
    I dont take such a humourous feeling with you conciliatiry attitude. tho… and you will see me in front of QFC getting signatures for something good or for a community effort.
    Have a new year which keeps you rmind and heart open and find good things to do with your life. nono

    Mon, December 31 at 7:56 am
  11. KND said,

    Thanks for you great write up about LFL’s in the area. We live at SE Greenlake on Ashworth Ave N and have one in front of our house (5738 Ashworth N)
    We have yet to get on the national map since I want to get our neighbors together for a picture and have yet to do that.

    What we did is searched for a small box or cabinet that my husband could build onto and he added the roof, the siding and cut holes in the doors for windows. It is quite sturdy and waterproof since it has a double layer of wood.

    Mon, December 31 at 8:40 am
  12. Kimberly said,

    I moved the locations of the LFLs out of the comments and into the article. I hope you all have fun finding them!

    yesyes/wo ho momo (and all): If you have a tip or story idea, please contact the moderators via the “tips” button on the toolbar at the top of the page. The moderators do not necessarily read all of the comments on all of the stories, so introducing topics not related to the story won’t get you the result you are hoping for. Please also be aware that those of us who write for Wallyhood do crazy things like taking time off at the holidays 😉 If you have a time-sensitive question, other neighbors might be able to answer it for you via the forums. You can find a button for that on the toolbar as well.

    Mon, December 31 at 8:53 am
  13. iowagirl said,

    I welcome the Little Free Libraries. They have been in Iowa City for a while now.
    The inventory varies, but not always focused in books for children. I love them.
    Think I’ll explore having one on Densmore. Can they be in the parking strip, or do they need to be on private property.

    Mon, December 31 at 9:28 am
  14. NancyM said,

    From the SDOT web site: Street Use Permits: Gardening in Planting Strips

    Many Seattle residents are interested in planting vegetables and other plants in the planting strip immediately abutting their properties. Plants in planting strips vary greatly in their potential to provide optimum pedestrian and environmental benefits. SDOT encourages the installation of low shrubs, perennial or groundcover plantings that provide a superior degree of separation between the sidewalk and street area. It is important that property owners know the required height and setback requirements for installing vegetation and hardscape elements, like pavers and raised planting boxes, in their planting strip in order to provide adequate sight and access clearances for the public and utilities. These standards and other information can be found in the following two Client Assistance Memos (CAM):

    Gardening in Planting Strips – CAM 2305
    Planting Strip Paving and Tree Planting Rules – CAM 2304
    Also: Street Use Permits: Gardening in Planting Strips
    “Call before you dig”:

    Mon, December 31 at 9:39 am
  15. NancyM said,

    whoops, somehow the text paragraph got in the comment above twice. Any way to fix? In short: the city has guidelines and issues permits for planting strips (what they are called here I have learned), knowing what is underground before using a post hole digger is important … : )

    Mon, December 31 at 9:43 am
  16. Kimberly said,

    I don’t know if they are permitted or not, but the LFLs I have seen around Seattle have all been in the parking strips.

    Mon, December 31 at 10:15 am
  17. NancyM said,

    Kimberly, thanks for fixing my post. Planting strips in Seattle have Municipal Code stipulations because of sight line safety; SDOT is one street agency that deals with transportation safety. Lots of people ignore requirements, others work to have them evolve. The big thing is to keep foliage to below 3 feet mid block and below 2 feet in both directions going 30 feet from a corner. Street trees start to get planted at 30 feet and street trees are “limbed up” to 8 feet on the sidewalk side and 14 feet on the street side once mature. As a pedestrian I appreciate these considerations, also I think they serve to give little kids a fighting chance of being seen if they step off the curb.
    LFL are so clever, the first one I heard of is in Minneapolis. Unless at a corner they don’t really take up sightline space, but the call before you dig piece is important (piercing a water pipe or knocking out e-mail for Wallingford would be bad outcomes and the call people, for free, tell you what is where).

    Mon, December 31 at 10:29 am
  18. Donn said,

    Seems to me I’ve seen something in this vein in our SW quadrant, a few blocks west of the Bagley location mentioned. I’m not going to go looking for it right now, but the point is that it was not in the parking strip, but rather at the front edge of the lot next to the sidewalk. It looked good, benefited from sheltering shrubberies, and there’s something about providing this facility out of your own yard rather than taking it out to a quasi-public area that seems more personal or something.

    Mon, December 31 at 11:20 am
  19. NancyM said,

    p-l-a-n-t-i-n-g strip : )

    Mon, December 31 at 12:48 pm
  20. yani said,

    I believe there’s one on either Woodlawn or Densmore, below 40th. It’s on the property side of the sidewalk, up against some shrubbery. I love the little free libraries!

    Mon, December 31 at 8:03 pm
  21. The Caspers said,

    Our little library is located at 3634 Woodlawn Ave N, under the big tree – come on down! It’s not officially registered, so you’ll never find it online.

    Tue, January 1 at 6:46 pm
  22. Jenny said,

    Hey Kimberly –
    Great post, thank you! I am interested in this “Wallingford Walk” and would love to hear more about it. It sounds like it could be a great Neighborhood Appreciation Day (February 9th) event. Please contact me if you have some time – [email protected]

    Wed, January 2 at 8:33 am
  23. Kathleen Cromp said,

    Another Wallingford treasure:) Kimberly, thanks for suggesting this idea for the focus of a Wallingford Walk. And I see Spokespeople has jumped on it for their next ride! On the Walllingford Walks front, we look forward to another season of walks, starting in the spring. We welcome ideas about walk themes. And we’re looking for someone to be the volunteer walk coordinator to help organize the series….. with WCSC providing a ‘home’ and admin support. Contact me for more info, or if you have some ideas / energy for this. [email protected]

    Fri, January 4 at 11:52 am
  24. abigail said,


    thank you for listing Wallingford and nearby locations at the end of the article. I tried using the article link to the the LFLs google map, but the locations available on that map are rather far from us.

    Sat, January 5 at 12:21 pm
  25. Stephen Hebert said,

    You missed the one at 53rd and Wallingford.

    Mon, January 7 at 12:51 am
  26. Stephen Hebert said,

    But thanks! I’m a big fan of all sorts of these community builders making public offerings from private property… I’d love to see more features about things like the poem bench, the upper wallingford word of the month, and the leave a treasure / take a treasure on keystone and 51st.

    Mon, January 7 at 1:06 am
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