The Little Free Library on Canal Street in downtown Milford, Michigan is a gem. Started by my good friend Colleen Kilpatrick, it’s a colorful, little neighborhood library where books are shared, neighbors meet, conversations start and friendships begin. Note: The photo above is the amazing SendOutCard’s thank you card Colleen mailed me (along with some delicious SendOutCard brownies!) for donating a few of my books. Click on the photo to enlarge.
According to the Canal Street Little Free Library Facebook page, it’s 1 of 30k Little Free Libraries worldwide. This Little Free Library in downtown Michigan really is magical.
Colleen dedicated the Canal Street Little Free Library to her late mother, Marlene Kilpatrick. Colleen told me, “My mother taught us to read. She loved books and was an avid reader. She ingrained that love of reading into us. ”
During the very emotional estate sale she held for her parents last year, she noticed a 24 year old young man who stood for an hour looking through the books on a book shelf. He told Colleen, “Wow! Your mom had some amazing books! Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could find a way to share these books with other people who would appreciate them?” And that started Colleen on the path of creating the Little Free Library on Canal Street, one of many in Michigan.
Colleen heard about Little Free Libraries before, but did not know much about them. She starting investigating. With the help of an Eagle Scout who built her Little Free Library, she added a bench, some paint, and the Canal Street Little Free Library was born!
Colleen has so many great stories of neighbors coming together around her Little Free Library. She told me that just yesterday a mother with a stroller was walking by. She stopped at the Canal Street Little Free Library, sat on the bench and read to her child for 45 minutes. Where else in the world would you ever see this???
Colleen, you did an amazing job making this Little Free Library happen. It’s a beautiful dedication to your mother, and a great addition to our community. Thank you!
Colleen is always looking for donations of books. She especially needs books for kids of all ages. If you have some, please message Colleen on the Canal Street Little Free Library Facebook page and she will arrange for you to drop them off at the Canal Street Little Free Library or make arrangements to pick them up.
Colleen’s message to you? “Please come visit our little neighborhood library!”
According to the national Little Free Library website, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse in 2009 as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS.
Rick Brooks, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, saw Bol’s do-it-yourself project while they were discussing potential social enterprises. Together, the two saw opportunities to achieve a wide variety of goals for the common good. Each brought different skills to the effort, Bol as a creative craftsman experienced with innovative enterprise models and Brooks as a youth and community development educator with a background in social marketing. They were inspired by many different ideas. The key Strategy is the “Promotion of reading for children, literacy for adults and libraries around the world.” Learn more.
Kirt Manecke is the author of the award-winning books Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service and Smile & Succeed for Teens: Must-Know People Skills for Today’s Wired World. Learn more about Kirt on his website.