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Toronto’s free library boxes: An inside look at all the books in a reading rainbow

The Globe tours seven of Toronto’s Little Free Library street boxes, and the neighbourhoods that sustain them

In 2009, Todd Bol built a tiny schoolhouse in honour of his mother, a teacher with a love of reading. He put the model on the front lawn of his Wisconsin home, filled it with books and invited his neighbours to take and leave them.

In less than a decade, the Little Free Libraries movement has grown to some 50,000 street boxes in more than 70 countries around the world. There are more than 100 locations across Toronto.

Photographer Michelle Siu discovered each library ‘branch’ offers a collection of books, and the occasional rodent, that is as unique as the neighbourhoods that support them.

1. The Beaches, 104 Winners Circle

Books: < 35


  • Frommer’s Walt Disney World & Orlando with Kids
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly #1 New Friends by Dorothy Haas
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul
  • The Good Life by Jay McInerney

2. The Beaches, 21 Kingswood Rd.

Books: < 15


  • What You Wish For by Fern Michaels
  • The Tower by Simon Clark
  • The Son by Jo Nesbo
  • This Was a Man by Jeffery Archer
  • Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

3. The Danforth, 127 Parkmount Rd.

Books: < 40

  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
  • The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmell
  • Confronting Homophobia in Europe (Wintemute, Gasparini, Trappolin)
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

4. Governor’s Bridge, 93 Nesbitt Dr.

Books: < 25


  • Ball of white yarn
  • Earthly Paradise: An Autobiography of Collette Drawn from Her Lifetime Writings by Colette and Robert Phelps
  • Plato Today by Richard Crossman
  • Speaking Out Louder by Jack Layton
  • Sex and the Office by Kim Elsesser
  • Webster’s English Dictionary

5. High Park, Ridley Gardens

Books: < 30


  • Four of a Kind by Erma Bombeck
  • The Ultimate Weight Solution by Dr. Phil
  • Jesus Saves by Darcey Steinke
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

6. Parkdale, 35 Melbourne Ave.

Books: < 30


  • A plastic rat
  • Giant Book of Crosswords 23
  • Imagining Transgender by David Valentine
  • Armada by Ernest Cline
  • Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy

7. Scarborough, 35 Botany Hill Rd.

Books: <50


  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  • Canadians by Roy MacGregor
  • The Book of Mormon
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl


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