Maggie and Mei Stewart visit a free library on Kleinert Avenue.

Word on the Street

Reading has always been more than just a subject in school for Maggie Stewart and her little sister Mei. Now 12 and 10, respectively, the girls love to root around local libraries to find favorite new books. They also offer their top picks to others in their very own free lending library.

After the girls’ mom, Wendy Stewart, learned about the Little Free Library movement, which has inspired the installation of miniature book-sharing structures around the country since 2009, she set out to put one in the family’s Pollard Estates front yard. The Stewarts’ library, erected in August, looks like a little red schoolhouse. It’s the ninth library of its kind in the Capital City.

Little Free Libraries began popping up in Baton Rouge in early 2013, inviting passersby to “take a book, return a book” from carefully curated personal collections. With a mission of promoting literacy and building a sense of community, the movement has seen rapid growth. A pale green library in the Garden District was built by a children’s librarian. A family on Highland Road styled theirs to match their house. An especially large one sits in front of an apartment building on Ned Street, and two others can be found outside elementary schools. There’s even one in the Brew Ha-Ha coffee shop on Jefferson Highway.

“We are seeing neighbors of all ages using the library,” says Wendy Stewart. “It’s a great way to share our hobby of reading, and it’s fun to see what new books have been added and what books have found new homes.”

For more information and a map of locations nationwide, see