Little Free Libraries in Croatia: Encouraging Readers in Unassuming Locations

Daniela Rogulj

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When you came back from a European holiday, you may enthusiastically tell your friends about small nooks, sometimes telephone booths, old lockers, or shop windows that showcase a selection of books. Books that are accessible to everyone. You were likely fascinated by the abundance of books and the variety and quality of the titles, and there were probably more titles available you wished to take with you!

Although it started in the USA, thanks to reading enthusiasts, the trend of these little free libraries, fortunately, came to life in Croatia. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, and all share that you can borrow books to read for free. These small libraries are opened by reading enthusiasts who want to encourage reading habits in their environment. Depending on the environment, some are citizens’ associations, and some are individuals.


In addition to the usual users who do not have to be members of a local library, tourists are the ones who, on beaches, bays, rivers, lakes, plains, and mountains, can enjoy the offer of books included in these little free libraries. The challenges of having these libraries in tourist centers are the same of these libraries everywhere. The moment it is open to the public and the community, which is the primary goal, it begins life in symbiosis with that community. You can imagine and force some literature, but the community maintains the fund of each individual library in the long run. If you want to adapt it to tourists, you need to act accordingly and need to regularly make sure that the library has enough titles in foreign languages. Libraries located exclusively in tourist places where interactions with the local population are minimal need guards who know the destination and the structure of the guests of that destination. In these situations, the variety of material and language is essential for its maintenance.


Librarians Maja Lesinger and Željka Hatvalić Strahija from the smallest and northernmost Croatian county – Međimurje – came up with the idea of uniting all libraries in one place. A Facebook page and a group for librarians were opened, in which the librarian administrators were mentioned, and an interactive map of the Little Free Libraries in Croatia was created. This is a unique project in Croatia to collect data on free libraries, promote them, and support librarians and volunteers who build, set up, and maintain these libraries independently.


While the site and the group are more intended to support the librarians and serve for promotion, the interactive map allows all interested to see the free libraries and register at your location. 

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page


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