Making Little Free Libraries

Read more about [bc]'s Little Free Libraries!

One year after five Dallas Police Officers were killed in Downtown Dallas, we celebrated the opening of five libraries in their memory. We hope you take a book or leave a book at one of the five locations. Read in Peace. 

Thank you to filmmaker Mark Birnbaum for volunteering his time to make this video. 

Remembering the Fallen Officers of July 7th, 2016

Click here to read more about Little Free Libraries!

buildingcommunityWORKSHOP hosted the official opening reception of the DPD & DART Officer Memorial Little Free Libraries last Saturday, July 22nd at South Side on Lamar

Wisconsin resident Helen Stassen, whose late son Benjamin has been commemorated through a Little Free Library in their hometown, reached out to [bc] after July 7th to initiate this endeavor and generously funded the design and construction of the five libraries. 

“We are offering a small contribution to personal and community healing in the form of Little Free Libraries as memorials to the slain Dallas Officers. Since Benjamin’s death our family has embraced the positive experience of being stewards of a Little Free Library, used by many people, that is a memorial in Benjamin’s name. This offers us an evolving and ever changing way to nurture and care for others in our community and to keep Benjamin’s memory alive. May the families, friends and community of Officers receive some of these same benefits. We hope/pray those who see and use these libraries and hear this story be moved toward helping others and sharing in peaceful nonviolent ways.“

Over the last 12 months, the five Little Free Libraries have been designed, built, and installed across the City of Dallas to commemorate the five officers who lost their lives on July 7th, 2016. This project has been an opportunity for a meaningful collaboration between [bc], the Dallas Police Department's Office of Community Affairs, a team of dedicated volunteer designers, and our library stewards: South Side on Lamar, El Centro College, N W Harllee Early Childhood Center, Our Saviour Episcopal Church, and Vickery Meadow Community Garden. To realize the libraries, a group of 6 core volunteers offered their design services with help from dozens of other volunteer professionals and students. The design of the 5 libraries is composed of 5 shapes that were fabricated by hand. The libraries work together as a group, but are arranged in different compositions in each location to preserve  a sense of individuality for each library. 

This scheme was inspired by the police officers, who were all unique individuals who came together to work as one unit.  The unique geometric qualities of each library are meant to represent this bond. Proudly painted blue and yellow, all libraries display the fallen officers’ badge numbers, the “Read in Peace” slogan, and other personal memorial items from the Stassen family that address people affected by gun violence.

The memorial libraries are part of our Little Free Library/Libros Libres program. Little Free Libraries/Libros Libres is a literacy and community based design initiative in Dallas, Texas that uses free book exchanges to build community and promote a culture of reading. Inspired by the Little Free Library movement (, these small neighborhood book shelters operate under the guiding principle of “take a book, leave a book.” The project uses community engagement and design to makes books available in a variety of publicly accessible locations, supporting the health of the neighborhoods by fostering collaboration and relationships.

We would like to thank everyone who was involved in the creation of the libraries. Over the course of the year, we had over a dozen hands involved in the design and fabrication process. The core volunteer group was led by: 
Amruta Sakalker
Kristin Henry
Haven Hardage
Oswaldo Rivera-Ortiz
Freddie Ortiz
Sonya Shah

Additional support and in-kind donations were made by:
Richardson High School’s R Studio
Dallas Metal Inc.
SMU Deacon Innovation Lab
Little Free Libraries

Little Free Libraries in the press:
Little Free Libraries will honor fallen Dallas officers, Dallas Morning News, September 9, 2016. 

Little Free Libraries: Dallas Development Code Amendment

The proposed Dallas Development Code amendment that will affect current and future Little Free Libraries (LFL) in our community. Free outdoor little free libraries encourage vibrant, connected public spaces and help to increase access to books throughout our community. 

Here are few of the highlights on how the code amendments and how it affect current and future LFLs:

  • Proposed amendments are rigid on location and size.  Size and location requirements in the front yard limits LFL to small boxes located in very specific locations that leave no scope for creativity.
  • Under the proposed amendments, there is no possibility for the existing LFLs to be grandfathered in as the proposed requirements will be applied retroactively.
  • A survey of existing LFL in Dallas found that more than half of the LFL would become illegal if the new amendments are passed as presented. The vast majority of those are located in front of single family homes, designed and built by families.
  • It also means that out of 19 LFLs available to be purchased online on LFL National site, only 3, would be allowed under the proposed amendments.
  • No other big cities of Texas - including Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso - have any code regulations for LFLs. Other cities around Dallas - Frisco, Plano, Fort Worth, Richardson and Irving - do not have any code regulations for LFLs. Only one suburban city, Pearland has rules that disallow LFLs.

Dallas City Council will be considering the proposed amendments at the next council meeting on October 26th, 2016 at 9 am, in City Hall

CLICK HERE for a brief description of the LFL program in Dallas, research on how the
proposal affect LFLs, and a copy of the proposed amendment.

We encourage you to reach out to your council member to express your opinion on the proposed amendments and attend the council meeting on October 26th to make your voice heard during the public hearing.  

If you have any questions about the attached document, please feel free to contact us at or

Press written about the code amendments include: 

July Designer Social Recap

Learn more about the proposed code amendments to Little Free Libraries in Dallas, and sign up to receive email updates on opportunities to get involved in your community!

Thank you for attending our 3rd Dallas Designer Social of 2016 and making it such a success! Find out how you can get involved with the projects and organizations that presented at the event below. 


Ashley Hollon and Melanie Wood shared how AIA Dallas' Young Professionals committee aims to direct young professionals to give back to the community through design. Their mission: Providing networking, professional development and opportunities to give back to the community through design for unlicensed, newly licensed and other young professionals up to 10 years after registration. 

  • Find out more about upcoming events here, get involved in current projects, or volunteer to provide technical assistance by emailing

Patrick Blaydes and Amruta Sakalker discussed the proposed code amendments affecting existing and future Little Free Libraries in Dallas, and how designers can become advocates for public space. Read more about Little Free Libraries / Libros Libres.

Doug Prude, of PARK(ing) Day Dallas, shared how designers can get involved in this year's event on September 16th, 2016. Anyone can register to reserve a parking space on Main Street to transform into a park for the Downtown Dallas event or sign up to assist other participants with their design or construction needs.

Our Designer Social series will continue to share local opportunities, programs, and resources in the Dallas area for designers, architects, artists, engineers, landscape architects, and other design-related professionals to get involved in community-based projects. We invite you to come learn from local efforts, expand your network of resources, and build capacity for designers in DFW to address issues in our communities. Read the recaps of the February and April Dallas Designer Socials!

If you would like to share at our next Social about a local program or project you are involved in, let us know! Email for more information on our Designer Social series.

POP Project Guides

Ever thought about doing an oral history project in your neighborhood? Want to learn more about why we think Little Free Libraries / Libros Libres is one of [bc]’s most important neighborhood planning tools? Check out the first two buildingcommunityWORKSHOP Project Guides, a series of short publications that describe the what, how, and why of our People Organizing Place projects.

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Recruiting Dallas Designers

On March 13, a group of DFW-area designers, urban planners & architects gathered at our office to learn about [bc]'s various designer partnership opportunities. At the social, [bc] shared with attendees the upcoming projects that need design partners to get involved. Below is an overview of the short presentation given during the social as well as the accompanying slides.

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Call for Design Partners

[bc] has found that the partnerships between designers/architects and community-based organizations are mutually beneficial, building the knowledge and experience of both to better serve others. With that in mind, [bc] is inviting local design professionals to become Design Partners to provide their services to meet the needs of local nonprofit and community organizations. There are a variety of roles for designers, architects, landscape architects, engineers, graphic designers, and planners of all levels of experience. 

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Libros Libres wins SXSW Eco Place by Design Community Impact Award!

Read the rest of our Little Free Libraries/Libres Libros posts.

On behalf of all of the project partners, library stewards, hosts, and designers, team members Isaac Cohen and Philomena Jones were on hand to accept the award. We were incredibly honored to be named one of 15 finalist for the award and excited that we had the opportunity to share the project with all of the attendees at the SXSW Eco Conference in Austin.  You can see all of the award finalists here and learn about some great place making efforts from around the world:

We look forward to capitalizing on this award and to building more Libros Libres in Dallas!

Libros Libres a Finalist for SXSW Eco's Place by Design

Read other Little Free Libraries/Libros Libres posts.

We're excited to announce that Little Free Libraries/Libros Libres, our collaboration with Big Thought and Dallas Public Library, has been named a finalist for SXSW Eco's Place By Design competition! We'll see you in Austin this October 6-8.

Be sure to check out the other great finalists as well!

Library Build Day

Read other Little Free Libraries/Libros Libres posts.

On May 17th, community members, library hosts and stewards, volunteer designers, and project partners gathered at the Lakewest YMCA in West Dallas and the Full City Rooster in the Cedars to build and install their Little Free Libraries. After many weeks of work and much anticipation everyone was excited to finally get to building and reading! It was a beautiful day and much fun was had by all. See for yourself:

Take a Book, Leave a Book

This is the first post in a series about the Little Free Libraries/Libros Libres project.

Little Free Libraries/Libros Libres is a literacy and community design initiative in Dallas, TX that pairs neighborhood residents and organizations with local designers to build small book shelters, creating new gathering spaces that promote literacy and community building. Part of the Little Free Library movement, started by Todd Bol and Rick Brooks, this project promotes community ownership, encourages frequent use, and ensures the longevity of each library, improving the built environment alongside literacy in urban areas.

The project was initiated as a collaboration between bcWORKSHOP, Big Thought, and the Dallas Public Library. Between now and May 2014, designers will be paired with neighborhood stewards to build up to 20 Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods in the Lincoln and Madison (South Dallas/Fair Park) and Pinkston (West Dallas) high school feeder patterns. Using a $100 budget, community members will work with volunteer designers and artists to design and build the libraries. Free books will be supplied to stock the libraries, which are located in public places chosen by community members.

Learn more at