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 Code Amendment Update

See more posts on Little Free Libraries!

On October 26, 2016 the Development Code Amendment regarding Little Free Libraries in the City of Dallas was heard by the Dallas City Council:

  • Item 60. A public hearing to receive comments regarding amendments to Chapter 51 and Chapter 51A of the Dallas Development Code, Section 51-4.217 and Section 51A-4.217, “Accessory Uses,” providing regulations for book exchange structures as accessory outside storage and an ordinance granting the amendments.

The adopted motion was to “treat landscaping, ornamental structures (front yard accessories) and lawn furniture by right,” meaning no new code restrictions would be placed on “book exchange structures” or Little Free Libraries.

  • Voting Yes: [14] Rawlings, Alonzo, Wilson, Griggs, Medrano, Thomas, Callahan, Young, Clayton, McGough, Kleinman, Greyson, Gates, Kingston
  • Voting No: [1] Arnold  

While the City of Dallas will not restrict the size or location of Little Free Libraries on private property, if you are considering placing a LFL on your private property, we recommend contacting you HOA (if applicable) for any restrictions that may affect your library structure.

Our thanks goes to everyone who contacted their councilperson and expressed their opinion of the Development Code Amendment!

See and the links below for more resources for Little Free Libraries!

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: 

Little Free Libraries "Call for Volunteers" event recap

Thank you to all those who could attend the “Call for Volunteers” event for the new phase of  Little Free Libraries commemorating the fallen officers. Those who were unable to attend the event last week, here is a quick recap of the evening and how you get involved!

"Call for Volunteers" event brought together people interested to help design and build 5 little free libraries to commemorate fallen officers

"Call for Volunteers" event brought together people interested to help design and build 5 little free libraries to commemorate fallen officers

The evening began with a brief introduction and history of Little Free Library/ Libros Libres program. This program began three years ago as a collaboration with BigThought and the Dallas Public Library. The current project was introduced by the reading of a letter from donor Helen Stassen, which explained her interest in donating the libraries in memory of the officers. Helen lost her son to gun violence 6 years ago. This tragic loss made her family feel the need to “do something” that would help them remember and heal from the loss. They decided to build a Little Free Library in memory of their son. While keeping the memory of their son alive, the library has helped them connect and contribute to their community. After the July incident in Dallas where five police officers lost their lives, the Stassen family felt the need to do something to help the healing of Dallas community. They hope to do so by donating 5 little free libraries as memorials for the fallen officers. They wish that the Dallas community is able to benefit and heal by helping and contributing to the community through these libraries.

Joli Robinson from Dallas Police, community affairs department spoke about their hopes and the significance of the project as a memorial for the officers. The evening then continued into feedback activities asking the attendees regarding preferred locations for the LFLs in Dallas, hopes and expectations from the project, and stewards,designers and locations suggestions.


Few suggestions that emerged through the feedback activity during the event,

“wonderful way to honor the officers on an ongoing basis...another opportunity for communities to come together”

“I think our community will really appreciate having an accessible reminder to the events that transpired - a meaningful place where community can come together”

“Continues community engagement around a positive memorial that gives back to the community”

“it will be seen as a positive way for the communities affected to engage, heal and grow together, in the hope of preventing further violence”

Do share your hopes and expectations from the project.    


Between now and 10th September we will be finalizing locations, stewards and designers for the 5 Little Free Libraries. Using the total budget of $3000, volunteer designers, stewards and interested participants from the community will work together to design and build the 5 libraries. If you are interested to be a steward or a designer for one of the 5 little free libraries or would like to suggest locations to host these libraries, please write to us at or call us at 214.252.2900

Here is a brief background and images of the Little Free Library/ Libros Libres project so far.

Little Free Libraries/Libros Libres is a literacy and community design initiative in Dallas that uses free book exchanges to support community and promote a culture of reading. The program has brought together local artists, designers, and community leaders to design and build a range of public outdoor book exchanges in West Dallas, South Dallas/Fair Park, and south Oak Cliff. The design and function of the libraries are site-specific and developed through a collaboration between designers and community leaders. 20 LFL/Libros Libres have been completed. You can read more about the project at


Images of all 20 Little Free Libraries designed under the Little Free Library/ Libros Libres program since 2014