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It’s such a friendly, low-tech kind of idea. Build a sturdy box with a shelf. Put it outside with some books in it and invite neighbors or passersby to browse, take a book if they’re interested and drop off a book of their own they can.

To learn moreTo start your own Little Free Library or to find out more, visit

And there you go. You’re in the library business, just like Jody Simpson of California.

Simpson says the idea to start a Little Free Library began when her husband, Mark Simpson, heard about the little libraries in other places in the country on National Public Radio.

Jody Simpson is the executive director of student services advisement and career services at the College of Southern Maryland’s Prince Frederick campus. Through her involvement in Leadership Southern Maryland, she was assigned to commit to a mission that inspired her. And as a person who loves to read, she remembered her husband talking about the Little Free Library movement and decided that was what she wanted to do.

“When you say something out loud you have to kind of go with it,” Simpson said.

Simpson decided she would start her own Little Free Library to promote literacy and a love of reading in her community.

Simpson’s library is a decorated dropbox where all types of books can be found, from fiction to nonfiction, and they’re rotated multiple times throughout the month. Simpson has placed an emphasis on children’s books. Neighbors are encouraged to take whatever books they wish and then return the same book or contribute new books for other visitors to the box.

Simpson’s library is located at the end of her driveway in the Wildewood neighborhood in California, where Redwood Lane and Acorn Lane meet, and is one of thousands found throughout the United States and the rest of the world, including Germany, Ghana and India. Simpson’s is the 3,596th library worldwide and the first one in Southern Maryland.

Erika Humphreys, a mother of five and Simpson’s next-door neighbor, said her children enjoy the library that’s steps away from their front door.

“It’s a great addition to the neighborhood,” Humphreys said, and added, “I would be surprised if other neighborhoods didn’t copy it.”

Humphreys also said it gives her children something to look forward to and a sense of autonomy.

Now that she’s established her Little Free Library, Simpson says her goal is to spread this idea and promote other Little Free Libraries throughout the area now that she knows the community supports the concept.