8 of the Most Unique Little Free Libraries

Elisa Shoenberger


Elisa Shoenberger has been building a library since she was 13. She loves writing about all aspects of books from author interviews, antiquarian books, archives, and everything in between. She also writes regularly for Murder & Mayhem and Library Journal. She's also written articles for Huffington Post, Boston Globe, WIRED, Slate, and many other publications. When she's not writing about reading, she's reading and adventuring to find cool new art. She also plays alto saxophone and occasionally stiltwalks. Find out more on her website or follow her on Twitter @vogontroubadour.

Like many other people, since March 2020, I became really familiar with my immediate neighborhood. I’ve taken hundreds of walks around our home and gotten to know the gardens and homes of the people around me. I now have favorite gardens; I take people on tours of my favorite Halloween decorations and the house with the mannequin in the window (They dress it up for various seasons). And of course, that means I’ve gotten to know the free little libraries around my home.

The concept is great. Build a little structure, fill it with books, and people can come and take books as they please. It’s always fun to investigate each one since no one free little library is the same. At least initially, the libraries reflect the tastes of their creators. Sometimes you find really unusual books there. This summer, someone put the legal textbook Children in the Legal System into a nearby free library; eventually, it disappeared!

So here is my list of the most unique little free libraries that I found in my own travels and social media. Many are unique for the form that they take but there will be a few that are unusual for their placement and theme. 

9 of the Most Unique Little Free Libraries

Church-Shaped Little Library

When I was taking a brief trip to Madison, Wisconsin, I came across this church shaped little library in front of what I believe is Grace Episcopal Church. I love that it has a little stain glass window, a magnificent entrance with stairs. I also love the mirroring of the tiny church with the big church in the background.

a church-shaped Little Free Library
Church Free Little Library in Madison, WI

Stained Glass Free Little Library

If you can’t tell, I’m a sucker for stained glass in all its forms. Erin_leigh_reads found this beautiful stained glass door library at Blenheim Street at 34th Ave in Vancouver. I love the bright bold colors and message of Hope, Love, and Peace. 

The Refrigerator Free Little Library

It’s like they knew about the grandfather clock and said, “Hold my beer.” I love this pink Smeg refrigerator that marysimses found in Palm Beach. I love that it plays with the theme by writing “Cool Reads” on the top door. The bottom says “Cool Eats” which makes me think there are popsicles in it but that’s unlikely given the lack of any wiring that I can see in the photo. 

Castle Free Little Library

Why have a house-shaped library when you could have a castle one? This one was found by torontolibrarian in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Apparently, it has a working drawbridge, which just makes this even neater.

Tree Free Little Library

It’s a tree shaped library at a campsite. What a perfect melding of form and place! Little_free_library_curtis found this wonder at the Brighton Recreation Area in Michigan. I love that it’s not just tree shaped, but mirrors what looks like a real tree. It’s uneven and knotty and perfect.

Doggo Free Little Library

When pursuing unique free little libraries, we can’t forget our furry friends. I love that it’s filled with sticks, which is the perfect dog toy. And it appears that it is at the dog level of ANOTHER Grandfather Clock Lending Library  (If you scroll to the last photo you’ll see it). 

 Boat-Shaped Free Little Library

So we have grandfather clocks, trees, refrigerators. So why not a boat? This one spotted by joannesbooks in Budva, Montenegro, is particularly handsome. Granted if you have too many books, does that mean you need a bigger boat (library)? 

Bonus: Cabinetlandia

Okay, so this isn’t officially a free little library (registered, etc.) but worthy of this list due to its unusual location in the desert in New Mexico. In 2003 Cabinet magazine bought a piece of land in Luna County and named it “Cabinetlandia.” According to Atlas Obscura, they established the library in 2004 and described it as “a file cabinet cemented into a concrete arch on the rectangular bit of land. According to its creator, Matthew Passmore, the idea was to “make it look like the cabinet grew naturally out of the landscape; as if, in Cabinetlandia, cabinets are naturally occurring elements of the ecosystem.”

It was initially stocked with a library card catalog, pillow, umbrella, a guestbook, issues of Cabinet magazine, and some hiking supplies including men’s hiking books. Apparently, people have continued to add things over the years including women’s hiking books.

Want more free little libraries? Check out this article about whether free little libraries are better in wealthier neighborhoods. Want to make your own? Here’s a list of places to get them right now.