Little Free Library brings books to neighbors

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 21, 2019

LAPLACE — Reading is one of the best ways to prepare a child for academic success, but Scholastic reports that 61 percent of low-income families do not have any age appropriate books for their kids to read at home.

Ana Phipps of LaPlace believes books are good for children and adults. Stories within the pages can promote literacy and creativity in even the youngest readers, while reminding adults there is more to life than cell phones.

Phipps operates Little Free Library Charter #88064 at 2144 Carmel Valley Drive in LaPlace. Community members who stop by the inviting little library are invited to take a book, leave a book, or both.

Zoe is one of the youngest readers to enjoy Phipps’ Little Free Library.

Little Free Library is a global, nonprofit organization that builds community and promotes access to books for all ages and backgrounds through free exchanges. The organization celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.

It all started in 2009, when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, an educator who loved to read. The little schoolhouse was filled with books and placed in Bol’s front yard.

The first library was so successful that Bol built several more. Today, there are 90,000 registered Little Free Libraries around the world, and many are popping up in the River Parishes.

Phipps first learned of the Little Free Libraries when her husband reported seeing one while heading to work in River Ridge.

“He knows that I love to read, and I have my own library at my house,” Phipps said. “One day, we were out that way and I asked him to show me.”

There was a plaque on top that said Little Free Libraries, and Phipps learned there were many libraries registered online for book exchanges.

“I said I wanted one, and he said ‘We’ll make one.’” Phipps said, “He built it, and I painted it and it’s been taking off. I know a lot of people use it. It’s good not just for the kids but for the adults, too, because these days we tend to always be on our phones. It’s always nice to pick up a book and read a nice story.”

Ana Phipps paints her Little Free Library with some help from her furry companion.

Phipps’ Little Free Library on Carmel Valley Drive opened in August 2019.

It has a clear plastic door that allows visitors to peek at the books inside. The side is painted white and decorated with an image of an orange cat with a book in its lap, surrounded by the words “Lil Reba’s Library.”

Within a week of it opening, Phipps received a handwritten letter that said, “Hello, my name is Kayla. I am a huge fan of reading. When I saw this, I got so excited! I traded three books for two, and I can’t wait to exchange more in the future.”

Others have left kind messages through Facebook, according to Phipps.

Children’s books, cookbooks, religious books and holiday books packed inside offer something for everyone regardless of age.

The Little Free Library is also open for donations. Phipps always has dozens of books in her vehicle. When her Little Free Library is full, she will drive around with the surplus donations and distribute the books to Little Free Libraries across the New Orleans area.

However, donations are not a requirement.

“You can leave a book, you can take a book, or you can do both,” Phipps said. “You don’t have to leave a book if you take a book. I hope other people get inspired by it and have their own little free libraries in their neighborhood.”

People across the country have reported that Little Free Libraries make a neighborhood feel like a friendlier place. For more information on Little Free Libraries and how to get involved, go to or visit Phipps’ library at 2144 Carmel Valley Drive.

The website includes a map of every Little Free Library that has been registered.