In Oklahoma alone, there are 410 registered Little Free Libraries, appealing to children and adults alike. Photos courtesy Little Free Library

Gregory Yankey created a little library on his front lawn to encourage readers, highlight his hobby and foster fellowship in the neighborhood.

The bookshelf, built to resemble a train caboose, also helps him share a love of reading with others. He places books on the shelf that kids and adults are encouraged to pick up and read for free.

“I’ve always wanted to put a library in my front yard,” he says. “I think it just made it a more welcoming place.”

Yankey’s library is part of the Little Free Library organization. The nonprofit uses a network of volunteer-led book-exchange boxes to give people free access to literature of all kinds. The effort aims to expand access to reading and build community bonds. These libraries are also having a big impact; they’re now found throughout the United States and in 121 countries.

Oklahoma has 410 registered Little Free Libraries that appear on the organization’s world map on its website, says Margret Aldrich, director of communications with the Minnesota-based nonprofit.

Aldrich believes the sense of connection within communities is one of the reasons for the program’s universal appeal.

“Little Free Libraries offer a simple but powerful way to build community, share your love of reading and provide access to books to inspire others,” she says.

Yankey mentions that his library, named the Owasso Yankey Garden Railroad Library, was a way to combine a few of his interests – as he’s a teacher, woodworker and train enthusiast.

The little library also complements the rest of his train-themed yard, which includes space to run a model train and locomotive-themed planter boxes. His library is 4 feet wide and 16 inches high, “so it can hold quite a few books,” he says. 

Yankey, who opened the library last fall, says kids enjoy the spectacle, and he often sees visitors stop by to check it out. One of his reasons for wanting the library was to promote conversations among neighbors.

“I want to see a society where people are not glued to their electronic devices, and they’re out talking to one another, interacting and being neighborly,” he says. “And I want my home to be a welcoming place to others.”

Rachael Laib, another Little Free Library volunteer, says encouraging community interactions also was a reason she wanted to install her library in Moore nearly seven years ago. 

“The vision was to get people out in the community and walking around,” she says. 

Laib’s library includes a variety of children’s books, self-help books and new releases. She also promotes the library through her Facebook page, Old Town Little Free Library.

“I think it’s just encouraging people to consider others and to share the joy of reading,” she says.

Amberly Shroyer of Norman is in the process of creating her own small library. The 11-year-old calls it “Amberly’s Magical Bookshelf,” and her prototype design features fairies and flowers. Amberly plans to include a QR code where recipients can fill out a form to share the books and authors that interest them. She mentions that one of her long-term goals is to start a reading program in the community.

“I hope it develops to where I can read to people and teach people how to read,” she says.

About Little Free Libraries

There are more than 175,000 registered, volunteer-led Little Free Libraries around the world, with 50 states and 121 countries served.

To find one in your area or to create your own, visit

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