Photo: Rick Brooks (left) with co-founder Tod Bol via Little Free Library
Meet Rick Brooks, co-founder of the Little Free Library project, a movement that has spread to some 80 countries around the world over the last six years or so. Below, Rick shares the history of the project and the role Little Free Libraries play within communities around the world, some of the more far-flung destinations where they can be found and why books are still so important in our digital age.
LO: Tell us a bit about yourself.
RB: I grew up with four sisters in Wichita, Kansas. Our parents wisely observed that their adolescent children were turning into young adults who could benefit from “seeing how the rest of the world lives.”
So my father, a plastic surgeon, applied for a Fulbright grant and we went to India, where he and my mother lived in a leprosy sanitorium near Vellore (in Tamil Nadu). Two of my sisters and I went to international school in Kodaikanal and one to college in Madras. We returned to Wichita, then five of us went to Peru for a year. Our lives have been changed by those experiences ever since.
Since then, I attended Beloit College, got a degree in anthropology and education, spent two years on the Hospital Ship HOPE (in Tunisia and Jamaica primarily), served as an education reporter and editor for Pioneer Press newspapers north of Chicago, and so on. I have co-founded a youth newspaper, community food and gardening network, citywide alliance of locally-owned, independent businesses; served on several dozen organizational boards, taught thousands of kids, youth and adults, volunteered/worked in lots of countries and wished I had more time to live more fully…
At this stage in life, I’m finding that what I used to do is probably less important than what life presents to me in each moment. I do not plan to “grow up.”