Saturday, November 24, 2018

Todd Bol, founder of the Little Free Library, has passed away

Todd Bol, the man who founded the Little Free Library and created a global movement, has died after a brief battle with cancer. He was 62.

Bol died October 18, weeks after learning he had pancreatic and peritoneal cancer and entered hospice care.

It should be no surprise that the Little Free Library was inspired by a teacher - Bol's mother. When she died, he honored her memory by taking wood from his old garage door and building a little schoolhouse. He placed it on a post in front of his house, and inside, he placed a handful of books which anyone could borrow on an honor system. Many even left their own books to share with others, and more Little Free Libraries began popping up around his home in Hudson, Wisconsin.

After word of his libraries hit the internet, the movement went viral. Nine years later, there are 75,000 Little Free Libraries in 88 countries around the world.

Shortly before he died, Bol gave one of his final interviews to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, in which he reflected on his legacy and the Little Free Library's impact on the world.

“If I may be so bold, I’m the most successful person I know,” Bol told the Star Tribune. “I stimulate 54 million books to be read and neighbors to talk to each other. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the very definition of success. I wouldn’t switch my existence for Jeff Bezos or any of it.”

Even though Bol suffered from dyslexia, and had difficulty reading, his love for books has become a way for neighbors to bond in communities worldwide. The movement has even expanded, with some law enforcement using police cars as "bookmobiles," and service projects inspired by causes featured in some books.

Even as he faced his own mortality, he was looking to expand the movement's impact for years to come. “Wouldn’t it be cool if every Little Free Library could connect you with tutoring?” Bol said. “There are so many different ways of using Little Free Libraries as a spark within the community.”

The mission of the Little Free Library will continue despite Bol's death. Thirteen employees now work for the non-profit that runs the Little Free Library and connects with volunteer "stewards" who run libraries around the world. Todd's brother Tony is taking over as the "face" of the organization, and the chairwoman of the board is taking over day-to-day operations.

Our condolences go out to Bol's family, friends, and colleagues at The Little Free Library.

You can learn more about the Little Free Library organization by visiting their website at

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