My mini free library for the love of books and the community

I am so excited about sharing this project about my mini free library for the love of books and the community. But first let me go back in time to explain where this passion comes from. When I founded London Mums in 2007 I had in mind a group of people caring for each other, sharing tips, ideas, things, compassion and love. 

Gestures of sharing and love melt my heart and motivate me to do more every day. I knock at neighbours’ and friends’ doors, volunteer to do their shopping, I take time to listen to people looking into their eyes. I am also a hugger. All these things are a bit old school and don’t involve the use of technology or devices. I know I can be annoying because people these days prefer hiding behind a smartphone. But I am determined to set an example here because as little as that can be, I believe it can have a snowball effect. I want that snowball to become an avalanche. I am saying this because my next step in this community LOVE project has been the creation of a mini free library in front of my house gate.  

I saw one in Amsterdam during a recent press trip that really inspired me. 
So I asked my 12-year-old son to make one for me. He created the design and produced a weather-coated wood and plastic box during his DT (design and technology) after-school club at his brilliant secondary school in East Sheen, Richmond Park Academy
The teachers there went to great length to provide the suitable recycling materials to make it. They donated their precious time outside school hours and during lunch breaks. Ultimately they inspired him so much that he chose DT as one of his subjects for the upcoming GCSE exams. This, I’m sure, will have an ever-lasting effect in his future. 

The day Diego finished our mini free library, I picked him up from school with the car and took this picture.

That was such a proud mum and son moment! I haven’t stopped praising him for that since. 

We haven’t decorated our waterproofed box yet. It’s work in progress. But even plain, it has already been spotted. In two days books and DVDs have been taken, swapped and replenished without even the need for our instructions. The message is loud and clear: sharing is caring! 

Our first ‘customer’!


Giving books and DVDs to the community is great, useful and fun. In an era of funding cuts to public services, our mini free library is a small contribution to making reading accessible to all.

We aim to bring the community together by encouraging people to set up their own book exchange boxes where anyone can take or leave a book for free.

I feel that if we all do our bit, it’s like working against the tide of commercialism and selfishness. 

My dream would be to see lots of these boxes all around the world, peeking out of the trees by the roadside or in front gardens. I see the mini free library as a place to pass something special to someone new, a beautiful way to express that underlying kindness in us all.

Although we were initially worried about the box being vandalised, I don’t think this will happen, because deep down people care for each other and understand the spirit of the initiative.  

If you decide to make one, please send us your pictures and we will post them here. 

Here are some of my favourite boxes so far. 

My friend Maggy Woodley of Red Ted Art and her daughter created this amazing little house as a free library

This mini free library was created recently as part of an initiative in the village were I grew up in Italy, Castel Maggiore (near Bologna), headed now by Mayor Belinda Gottardi who is a school friend of mine from the good old days. The initiative is wide-spread there and not just limited to one box. I am so proud!

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