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"Little Free Library" grows to 36 countries from humble Hudson beginnings


HUDSON, WI (WTAQ) - It started in Hudson three years ago, when Todd Bol set up a box called the “Little Free Library” as a tribute to his mother.

He filled it with books – and he invited his neighbors to borrow them. It wasn’t too long before it became a gathering spot for people.

One of Bol’s friends tried the same thing in Madison – and it got the same response, and more of the Little Free Libraries popped up around the Capital City.

Now, they’ve spread to 36 countries, as a number of groups have adopted the book-sharing concept as a way to promote literacy in underdeveloped places.

Bol and his friends now run a workshop near Hudson, and sell the wooden boxes online. Schools have especially promoted the “take-a-book, return-a-book” concept. Officials say the books are rarely stolen – and they always seem to come back, as sponsors have seen in a high-crime neighborhood in St. Paul Minnesota.

Most of Bol’s revenue comes from the sale of little library boxes – and he has a $70,000 grant from the AARP which encourages seniors to read to children.

Bol and his Madison friend Rick Brooks just recently started drawing paychecks after volunteering on the project. Bol said the group wants to stay non-profit, and develop stable management systems so it can keep growing.