Learn all about setting up and operating your own Little Street Library, just like Stephanie and Lachie did in the sixth Hunter Chronicles story, Hunter and the Phantom Lights.
Little street libraries are simply free public lending libraries set up on private land, and maintained by volunteer librarians. They also provide fabulous opportunities for community building, discipleship, involving children and families in outreach, and distributing Christian literature.
- Support literacy: Little street libraries improve book access and thus help tackle low literacy rates. By providing books all year ’round, they can mitigate the “summer slide” where kids’ reading skills slip. And 24-hour availability makes it possible for kids and working parents to share books at times that are convenient.
- Increase Biblical literacy: Offering a range of books on Biblical topics has the benefit of placing Biblical stories and books with spiritual content within the reach of people who might not otherwise encounter such material, in a gentle and non-threatening way.
- Intergenerational Appeal: Not only can young and old work together to build and maintain street libraries, but a book-sharing box populated with books for all ages on a variety of subjects will attract patrons from different parts of the community. Participation by such a range of users, from little kids to seniors, shows budding readers the value our culture places on books and encourages good reading habits.
- Build community: Street libraries offer a way for groups and individuals to engage with their communities. Church groups, men’s sheds and Pathfinder clubs can assemble kits and maintain book supplies for locations where books are few.
- Lasting Impact: Little library book exchanges are a long-lasting, sustainable way to provide books to kids, families and neighbours for years to come.
- Skills Development: Whether by creating their own design, using building plans to create a library from scratch, or by assembling a pre-fabricated library kit, kids can learn useful carpentry skills as they build and install street libraries.
- Cross Strategizing: As part of a combined initiative by the Children’s Ministry and Family Ministry departments, AUC Resource Centre and Seeds of Faith, it is intended that little libraries will become a part of a wide-ranging and integrated cross-strategy. One example is as follows: Book #6 in the Hunter Chronicles series will feature the building and operation of a little street library. Plans and guidelines on the how to’s of street libraries will be available to Hunter Chronicles The little library in the story will contain another book published by Seeds of Faith: When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Pastor. One of the book characters will decide he wants to be a pastor after having read the book from the library. Actual readers will be encouraged to start up their own street libraries, perhaps even completing a dedicated Pathfinder honour, and stocking their libraries with Hunter Chronicles books and Bible study guides, along with other spiritual outreach related materials.
Ways to Use Street Libraries
- Individuals: Set up a street library in your front yard and offer a selection of books for all ages on a variety of topics. Libraries become a focal point on (often) otherwise featureless streets. Use the library as a conversation starter with neighbours to discuss the book selections and the topics raised. People are often curious about why you have set up the library and put in the particular books you have.
- Pathfinders: Members of Pathfinder clubs can participate in the building and maintenance of a street library. It is fun to both build the library, and to see what books are borrowed or donated. It would be wonderful to develop a Pathfinder honour that revolved around the Street Library experience.
- SDA Churches: A street library in the grounds of an SDA church has the advantage of offering quality literature on spiritual topics in a non-threatening way for those who are reticent to ask direct questions, or have awkward conversations with pastors, church officials about the SDA Church.
- Indigenous Communities: Books and quality reading materials can be offered to aboriginal people that are specifically targeted to local needs, particularly in remote areas of regional Australia where libraries are scarce, and reading materials hard to come by.
- Migrant Communities: Literature for people with English as a second language can be offered freely and in a readily accessible manner, without threat or embarrassment. When combined with free bookmarks containing contact numbers for classes in English or services offered by church or community groups, opportunities to make personal contacts are multiplied.
- SDA Schools: Adventist schools can put a little library on the campus in an area accessible to parents and the public. Books can be offered to visitors and non-SDA parents in a non-threatening way, that provide insights into what the Seventh-day Adventist Church is all about, its theology, and lifestyle.
- Other Street Libraries: The opportunity also exists to place quality books in street libraries operated by others. A simple internet search (https://streetlibrary.org.au/find/) will reveal all the existing street libraries in a given area. There is nothing easier than visiting your local libraries and dropping off a few books for others to enjoy.
Making Street Libraries extra appealing
- Include a Visitor’s/Guest Book to receive messages or make personal contacts
- Offer free bookmarks or pencils for kids
- Add a small chalkboard and have daily bookish sayings, literary quotes, or inspirational thoughts for the day
- Add a herb garden and invite people to help themselves
- Add a little treasure chest and offer keepsakes
- Add a light for night time visitors (solar powered lights are great)
- Add a dog hook so dog walkers can use two hands to browse your library
- Place a chair close by the library so visitors can sit while they read or browse
- Add a geocache to attract visitors
- Register your library on the Australian network
How do I set up a little library?
Setting up a little library is super simple. A little library is basically just a waterproof box with books in it. All you need to do is build or buy a suitable box to use for your library. Little libraries can be as simple or elaborate as you like. A simple Google search for little libraries or street libraries will reveal thousands of pictures of people’s libraries. Let your creativity and imagination go wild. Have fun with it.
Follow these steps:
- Build and decorate your little library
- Set it up on your property, or at your church or school (with permission of course)
- Purchase a Street Library plaque (registered), just $24.90 from https://streetlibrary.org.au/buy/
- Register your library by quoting the registration number on your plaque – https://streetlibrary.org.au/register/
- Fill your library with books, and monitor the books coming and going
Where should I put my little street library?
It’s best to put your library on private property, or property you control. Also, put it as close to the footpath or sidewalk as possible. Lots of people have asked if they can put their library on the verge, or on council land. The short answer is “No!” Having a library on your property means:
- You get your library going faster (speaking to council can take years)
- You don’t need anyone else’s permission
- You control it better, and these libraries are generally better looked after than ones that are on community property
- There is zero chance you’ll find your pride and joy library removed by an over-zealous council worker
What books do I put in my Street Library?
We suggest including a range of books for all ages, both fiction and non-fiction, with the proviso that whatever is placed in the library, it should only promote a positive, helpful and healthy outlook on life. Try to avoid only placing books of a spiritual nature, but rather include a smattering of these, along with the following:
- Spiritual books
- Biographies of great historical figures, heroes, leaders and achievers
- Classic literature
- Fiction with a high moral value
- Children’s story books
- Books on healthy living, cookbooks, gardening, nature, lifestyle and travel books
- Self-help books
- Seeds of Faith products
- ATSIM products
You will need to monitor your library and remove any books that don’t reflect a positive Christian world-view. We don’t to be recirculating horror, misery, death and destruction.
Why should I register my little library?
Registering your library will make it visible online on one of the little library databases. People will be able to find your library on a global map, read your story and library philosophy, see a picture of your library, and know that you are part of a registered non-profit organisation that is formally recognised by the government and local council alike.
A second benefit of registering your library is that you are then affiliated with a registered not for profit organisation and the insurance and risk mitigation policies and volunteer insurances of the particular library association you register with. For example, Street Library Incorporated is a not for profit charity regulated by the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission and NSW Fair Trading (Incorporation number: 1501762. ABN: 77 163 177 635). Insurance and Risk Mitigation – Public Liability Insurance: Aon Risk Service Australia Policy Number 10M1792939. Volunteer Insurance: Aon Risk Service Australia Policy Number 0014943VPA
If you would like more information on the little library movement, visit one of the global little library websites:
If you would like more information about the AUC Little Street Library Strategy, contact your local conference Children’s Ministry or Family Ministry department, or the Australian Union Conference using the contact details below:
Pr Tony Knight
Director of Resource Development
Family and Children’s Ministry Liaison
AUC Resource Centre
289 Maroondah Highway (PO Box 4368), Ringwood VIC 3134 AUSTRALIA
Phone +61 3 9871 7591