WNBA Second Century Prize to Little Free Library

In November of 1917, a group of women booksellers gathered at Sherwood’s Bookstore in New York City to form an organization of women active in all aspects of the book world. Having been shut out of the all-male American Booksellers Association and the Booksellers’ League, the women connected, educated, and advocated for themselves, and the Women’s National Book Association was born.

One of the signature programs of our Centennial is the awarding of the WNBA Second Century Prize, a $5,000 grant to an organization that supports the power of reading, past, present, and into the future. The one-time cash award will be given to the Little Free Library, a nonprofit organization that promotes reading for all ages, but especially children, by building free book exchanges.

Under the guidance of Second Century Prize co-chairs Mary Grey James and Susan Larson, nominations for the prize came from WNBA chapters throughout the country. A committee chose Little Free Library (LFL) based on its grassroots organization, which has impacted thousands of readers of all ages and backgrounds. LFL embodies the goals of the Women’s National Book Association by promoting literacy and the love of reading.

Little Free Library was founded in Hudson, Wisconsin, by Todd Bol to honor his mother, a school teacher. In just eight years the organization has become an international movement of mini-libraries sharing the message of “give one, take one.” LFL has over 50,000 libraries in 70+ countries with millions of books exchanged annually.

No longer known only for its charming small libraries placed in front yards and public spaces, it continuously develops new initiatives. The WNBA particularly applauds the LFL’s new Kids, Community, and Cops program, which helps police departments set up book exchanges in their precincts, and Action Book ClubTM, which encourages social engagement through shared reading—a commitment that resonates with the WNBA’s own National Reading Group Month program.

“This means so much,” said Todd Bol, creator and executive director of Little Free Library. “Little Free Library is about 90 percent women, so it really is a women’s movement, supporting friends and family and community.”

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