Structures resembling large bird houses are popping up in D.C., Maryland and Virginia neighborhoods, housing about a dozen books free of charge.
Little Free Libraries began in 2009 and now has 12,000 bird house-like structures filled with free books in all 50 states, the District and more than 50 countries. Neighbors, churches or civic groups put up the structures and fill them with donated books, all with the help of Little Free Libraries' website. Those interested in picking up a book are instructed to either return the same one they took once they're done reading it, or bring another one by to replace the one they took.
News4's Mark Segraves spoke with Ken Samson, who built his own Little Free Library structure in his Takoma Park neighborhood.
"From the moment I put it up, people were just coming and going," Samson said.
He is now working to raise money to build 12 more libraries for the Takoma Park Maryland Library. Librarians say they are excited about the program, which would help them tailor to their audience.
"If we do it in a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood, we would of course focus on including lots of books in Spanish," librarian Pat Hanrahan said. "If it's a place outside where a lot of children are -- an ice cream store -- we would put a lot of books in that are for children or that parents could easily read to kids."
Northeast D.C. resident Devon Steven has a Little Free Library on her block and said she filled the "library" with donations from family, friends and neighbors.
"We raided our own bookshelves to add to the collection at first, some families donated [books]," Steven said. "Then we opened it up to the neighborhood."
Vandalism of the libraries has not been reported and the honor system seems to be working.
"We haven't had a problem with it the whole time we've had it here. What Little Free Library likes to say is, 'You can't steal a free book,'" Steven said.
Click here for more information on the locations of Free Little Libraries or instructions on how to build your own.