Amid Housing Crisis, Renters Move Into Little Free Libraries

Photo by Dusty J

Facing the choice between astronomical housing prices and the slow, defeated march home to live with their aging parents, an increasing number of renters are making the move to Little Free Libraries.

The zero bedroom, zero bath structures are a bit cramped for families, but they have become a popular option among renters on a budget.

“They’re little, but they’re free, so that puts them in my price range,” says 28 year old Powderhorn neighborhood resident, Page Turner. 

“I had to downsize before moving in,” she continued, crossing from the living room to the kitchen by tilting her head slightly. “With all my books on kindle, music on spotify, and movies and tv on twelve different streaming platforms, I realized I didn’t have that much to house.”

Grotesquely inflated real estate values have made the prospect of homeownership less and less likely for Twin Cities residents, but while the average cost of a single family home has almost doubled in the past decade, Little Free Libraries have fluctuated little from their titular “Free” valuation. 

“I used to dream of owning a home,” said 34 year old grocery store clerk Brooke Marko, “Nothing fancy, just something with a backyard a dog could run around in. My Little Free Library isn’t big enough for a dog, but I’m thinking about fostering a boxelder bug.”

In the absence of on-site laundry, off-street parking, or electric outlets, what these libraries lack in amenities, they more than make up for in flexible leases and free wi-fi from the coffee shop on the corner. 

“With the money I got from the used bookstore when I sold the self-help books and James Patterson novels in my squat,” said Seward resident, 51 year old Ed Vellum, “I was able to buy a roller skate and start a neighborhood ride-share program. I’m saving up to buy another skate next summer.”