The Atlantic’s City Lab: How Detroit Plans to Get Kids Reading This Summer


Across the city, 97 tiny libraries will pop up in front of schools.

About two years ago, Kim Kozlowski installed a Little Free Library in front of her home in Ferndale, north of Detroit. The wooden birdhouse-for-books instantly became a point of connection between Kozlowski and her neighbors, who dropped by to swap books and share stories. The vessel became a community builder, she says.

Kozlowski wondered how these petite libraries might be able to galvanize people beyond her block. She partnered with local organizations, like the Rotary Club, Kiwanis, and Eagle Scouts, to install about 150 in front of homes, non-profits, community gardens, and churches. In the process, Detroit’s sidewalks grew dotted with these structures; Kozlowski’s Detroit Little Libraries campaign dubbed the city “The Little Free Library Capital of the World.”

The city will soon lay even more claim to the title. On July 28, it announced a plan to install these constructions in front of all of the Detroit schools—97 in total.


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