Little Free Library

Catherine Bennett ’16

It was when my neighbor, Claire, bemoaned the fact that she could not get to the Heuvelton Public Library that my decision solidified. I would build a Little Free Library, here in DePeyster, New York, for our isolated community of readers. 

Little Free Libraries (LFLs) hit the scene in 2009, rapidly becoming a community-oriented way to share books, CDs, videos, and magazines. Now used to share tools, seeds, and food, LFLs are a staple of the COVID-19 economy, bringing neighborhoods together in spite of social distancing.

Here at Bittersweet Farm and Milkweed Tussock Tubers, I wanted to stick to my environmental ethics while providing people with diverse literature. The first library is constructed of found materials. The second is an old cupboard, and the third an oddly shaped filing cabinet. Positioned along my road, they attract everyone from schoolchildren to the bishop, and their popularity has been astonishing. Despite evidence to the contrary, I truly didn’t recognize the need for more books along my road. Now, I am getting requests: The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew are two of the most popular series, and I try to keep books about organic agriculture stocked. Thanks to book donations from friends, out-of-state family, and faculty and staff from St. Lawrence and SUNY Potsdam, the array of available literature is ever-growing. 

Not only have the Little Free Libraries allowed me to provide my community with entertainment and education, they have made it possible for the folks on this road to maintain our connections and our sanity during this time of change. When I envision a new future—with and without COVID—I know that I will continue to ensure that free literature gets into the hands of everyone I meet. These libraries have proven to me that reading changes not just individuals, but entire societies. 

To make donations to Bittersweet/Milkweed Library System email Catherine Bennett at