The Springfield Free Library Network promotes free libraries throughout the Springfield, MO area. Some are community bookshelves in indoor locations, while others are self-contained boxes located outside in residential and commercial areas — see Little Free Library for more on these. There is no charge to register your library with SpringFreeLibNet, and you do not need to also be registered with Little Free Library.
Q: How did SpringFreeLibNet get started? A: In January 2013, Holly June Graves (librarian at the Fremont location) gave a presentation about Little Free Libraries at the Springfield Free Skool & Skillshare. Most of those in attendance had no idea that there were already four outdoor free libraries in town, and after learning more about Little Free Library, we decided to start a free local directory of outdoor and indoor locations. SpringFreeLibNet was born!
Q: Why give away free books? A: Because it creates a stronger community. Because the gift economy is valid, viable, and vital to humanity. Because there aren’t many feelings in the world that are better than holding a new-to-you book in your hands and opening it to the first page. Because we want to remind people that it’s important to sit down and read — alone, together, and to each other. And most of all, because it’s fun.
Q: Aren’t all libraries free? A: Technically, no. Libraries as institutions are funded by taxpayer dollars, and of course overdue fines. The free libraries in SpringFreeLibNet are maintained entirely by volunteers and are an example of a gift economy. You do not need a membership card to check out a book, and if you want to keep it, simply replace it with one of your own books.
Q: What’s the difference between SpringFreeLibNet and Little Free Library? Why bother with another free library organization? A: Firstly, SpringFreeLibNet is a local organization while Little Free Library is international. Secondly, SpringFreeLibNet is entirely free to its members, while Little Free Library costs $40 to get listed on their website. We think LFL is awesome, but it’s not an option for everyone who wants to host a library. We want to make sure every free library in Springfield can be easily found by readers.
Q: How do I get listed? A: Once your library is ready, fill out the signup form. (If you’re working on building a library now, e-mail SpringFreeLibNet@gmail.com and we’ll promote your grand opening!) A SpringFreeLibNet administrator will visit your library in person and confirm that it does in fact contain books, and get precise GPS coordinates. They’ll also take a picture of it. If you host an indoor library, we’ll contact you to find out when we should stop by. Then your library will be added to our Locations and be eligible for a Library of the Week feature!
Q: What if people steal books? A: That’s certainly a risk. Since free libraries don’t use membership cards or any tracking system to record who checks out which books, there is no way to recover stolen books. Opportunists might snatch particularly pristine volumes to resell. One option for librarians is to remove the front cover, which shows resellers that a book is not for resale and has been reported as destroyed to the publisher. Furthermore, any damage like dog-ears, creases, highlighting, or annotations will drop a book out of the lucrative “excellent condition” category and into “good” or “average,” making it a lot less attractive to steal and resell.
Mutilating books gives most bibliophiles the heebie-jeebies, so SpringFreeLibNet has a special stamp that bears our logo and URL and “not for resale,” so member librarians can stamp their books. This does not preclude theft, but it does make it more likely that a stolen and resold book will find its way back into the SpringFreeLibNet system. When you register to be listed on SpringFreeLibNet, you can check the box to set up a stamping appointment for your books, or e-mail us at SpringFreeLibNet@gmail.com anytime.
Q: Okay, this is awesome. How can I help you guys? A: Thanks for asking! Check out our Donate page for some options, or e-mail SpringFreeLibNet@gmail.com if you want to do something that isn’t listed there.