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Little Free Library/NYC

Little Free Library/NYC is a joint project of PEN World Voices Festival and The Architectural League of New York, and is realized in collaboration with Little Free Library, LTD.

The Little Free Library movement places small book shelters in neighborhoods and is based on the premise of “take a book, return a book.” Established less than three years ago, Little Free Libraries now sponsors over 5,000 libraries worldwide.

PEN World Voices Festival and The Architectural League of New York partnered to bring Little Free Library to New York City. A jury of Laurie Anderson, Andy Bernheimer, A.M. Homes, Scott Marble, Shannon Mattern, and Peter Mullan selected 10 architecture teams to each design and install a Little Free Library in collaboration with a host community organization. The libraries were installed throughout the East Village and Lower East Side during the 2013 IDEAS CITY Festival, for which the League was a partner organization. Since the official end of the project on September 1, 2013, a number of the community partners have continued to maintain their Little Free Libraries.


This online feature documents the evolution of Little Free Library / NYC. The video above tells the story of the project from conception to installation, through interviews with the organizing partners and representatives from the competition jury and the commissioned design teams. The feature continues below and includes an interview with Rick Brooks, one of the co-founders of Little Free Library, LTD; design guidelines and installation instructions from each of the design teams; photographs from the installation of the ten libraries during the IDEAS CITY festival; and concept renderings of the ten designs from the early stages of the project. 

Little Free Library/NYC has generated significant excitement and interest—across the city, country, and even abroad—since its launch in early May. Stay tuned for more information about future chapters of the project. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit the libraries throughout the course of the summer and to “take a book” and “leave a book” in the spirit of Little Free Libraries.

Published: May 6, 2013. Updated: July 22 & 29, 2013.

Video directed by Ryland McIntyre.