Here are some basic answers to a few FAQs. If you have other questions about the Little Free Library movement, you can also take a look at their own FAQ page, here.

If you have a question about Little Free Library Reykjavík (LFLR) that is not addressed below, I would be more than happy to answer it for you! Please email me directly at lflreykjavik[at]gmail[dot]com.

So wait…I don’t really get the concept. This is a tiny library, outside, which anyone can just take a book from and then bring it back when they have finished it?

Yes! Isn’t it a great idea?

How is this really different from a ‘take a book, leave a book’ shelf?

In my experience, ‘take a book, leave a book’ shelves end up just being a place that people use to stash or dispose of books and reading material that they don’t really want anymore. A library on the other hand–and a tiny one at that–is something much more personal, much more thoughtful, and much more community oriented. And the specific idea behind LFLR is to create a bilingual collection of both American and Icelandic books, as well as a meeting point (physical and metaphorical) for Icelanders, Americans, and anyone else to get to know these  literary traditions and cultures.

These books won’t be just chosen at random, and they won’t just be a bunch of books that I myself happen to like–they will be purposefully curated by both Icelandic and American publishers, librarians, literary organizations, book store owners, community leaders, and passionate readers. This will ensure that the little piece of both Icelandic and American literary heritage that is being offered at LFLR is of high quality, of interest to local readers, and representative of both country’s diverse literary traditions.

What if someone steals one of the books?

I like the answer provided on the Little Free Library website, so I am going to quote it here:

“You can’t steal a free book.  And if you have a good steward and lots of active users, eventually someone who tries to “steal” books will realize that it’s not a good thing to do.  If they do take books, they might even read them!   A message sticker or stamp in the book will help prevent used bookstores from buying them.  It will also notify the sticky fingered folks that they are violating the spirit of the entire Little Free Library movement.” 

I will add to this that I intend to keep some books on hand which can be swapped out with books in the LFLR collection in order to keep the selection fresh, and to also replace books which were taken but never returned. From what I have read of other people’s Little Free Library experiences, however, visitors really do bring the books back after reading them.

Who is going to look after Little Free Library Reykjavík (LFLR)?

For the time being, I (Larissa Kyzer) will be the steward of LFLR. This means that if all the books suddenly disappear, or the library gets knocked over, or someone is interested in talking about how this project got started and how to build another Little Free Library elsewhere (whoot!), I will be the lady to contact. When I am not in Reykjavík for an extended period of time, I will designate one or more individuals to keep an eye on the library on my behalf. Once it has been established, however, LFLR should be a pretty low maintenance institution.

Where in Reykjavík will this Little Free Library be located?

An excellent question, but one which I do not currently have the answer to. The final location of Little Free Library, Reykjavík has yet to be determined, but I am delighted to be working with the Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature office to find a central location for the library. The library will be placed either along one of Reykjavík’s Literary Walks or near one of the forthcoming Literary Markers–highlighted spots around the city which have literary significance.

Wherever LFLR is placed, it will be included on the City of Literature’s literary map and will be easily and readily accessible to members of the public, be they longtime Reykjavík residents, university students, or even tourists eager to sample a great piece of Icelandic literature while they are in town. (Just bring back the books!)

You seem to be raising a lot of money for one tiny library. What will you be using my donation for?

Another very good question. While I do already have a lot of cooperation and support for this project–including book donations–there will still be a number of expenses associated with getting off the ground. Here’s a short list to give you an idea of what your donation will go toward:

  • The Amish Shed Kit designed by Little Free Library in Wisconsin, which will then need to be shipped here to Iceland. When the kit arrives, I will need to pay an import tax on it, too. (I looked into building a library here in Iceland, but that actually was going to be more expensive than having the kit shipped from the U.S.)
  • Additional materials for the library’s construction: stain/waterproofing, materials for the base (not included with the kit)
  • Printed materials: laminate for all of the books so that they are at least all a little water/weather proof, stickers for the inside and outside covers, the guestbook/circulation log that will go inside the library
  • Some additional books: there are a lot of donations, but I will need to still purchase some books. (If I buy them here in Iceland, books are very expensive, if I have them shipped, I may have to pay another import tax)
  • I may also have to pay fees for the library’s installation permit
  • If there is any leftover money from fundraising after I complete this first Little Free Library, that will be held over the creation of another one here in Iceland.

I live in _______ (fill in the blank: the United States, Australia, China, Canada, Kenya, etc.). Why should I support a Little Free Library built in Reykjavík, Iceland?

There are a lot of answers to this question, all of which really depend on you as an individual. But here is a short list of reasons that you, a person in another country who may not have ever been to Reykjavík and may never even plan on visiting Iceland (that’s a mistake, btw–it is awesome here) might want to chip in to support this project:

1. Libraries of all stripes in all countries are basically under siege every day. Find me a library that has enough money, enough resources, and enough community support to run all of its programing, stay on the top of current technologies and collection needs, maintain a full and un-harried staff, etc. and I will salute you and then pass right out from shock. Every day, I read something about high schools which have gotten rid of their libraries because, well, kids only need the internet nowadays, or articles declaring that within ten years, no one will be reading physical books anymore.

Supporting a small, purposefully created, community “library” in a country that you have never been to and may never even visit is still a gesture of support for not only the library as a physical institution, but also as a concept. No matter how the world is changing, no matter how the libraries of tomorrow may look different than those of today, people everywhere are still reading (books), they still care about education and culture, and are still interested feeling connected to their communities.

Supporting a library such as this one is a vote of optimism for what community spaces and literacy and cultural involvement can be both today and in the future. Maybe that sounds lofty or silly, but I really believe it.

For more about the diverse functions, purposes, and intentions of small-scale libraries in public places around the world, I would also encourage you to read this great short essay by Shannon Mattern: “Little Libraries in the Urban Margins.”

(And if you decide that you’d like to start your own Little Free Library in your own country, hometown, or adopted place of residence, please let me know–I will be delighted to contribute to your fund-raising campaign!)

2. It will be a fantastically cool thing to tell people about at your next dinner party. Try it: “I just donated money to a tiny public library project in Reykjavík. Somewhere in a city I have never visited, my name is included in a book of “Library Patrons.”

3. You will now have a reason to visit Reykjavík, which again, is a super cool city with a whole lot–besides tiny public libraries–to offer.

4. You will be supporting a public literacy project which simultaneously highlights the importance of literary translation and encourages international literary exchange.

I am interested in being involved in the Little Free Library Reykjavík project–how can I help?

Thank you! Getting a project like this off the ground takes a lot of work and I would love the help! Help can come in many forms, and monetary contributions to our fundraising campaign is just one. I also need help building the library itself (particularly the base on which the library unit will stand), designing the stickers which will go on the front of/inside the collection books, etc. And I’m sure that there are all sorts of other details that I am overlooking at present. So if you have tools I can borrow, carpentry skills, social media savvy, expertise about Icelandic and/or American literature or other skills and talents that you’d like to bring to the process, please contact me at ethandthorn[at]gmail[dot]com.

Otherwise, just spread the word about this project: “like” our Facebook page, tweet about our fundraising efforts, share this website with your nerdiest bookish friends! Spreading the word about a project like this is vital to its success.

Thank you!


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