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100 objects: Little Libraries

From Boaz, Wisconsin (pop. 119) to Ghana, the Little Library movement that started in Madison has caught the imaginations of people around the world.


Any comic book lover can tell you the importance of the Origin Story. It’s the narrative that shows the often modest beginnings of the most enduring characters and defines who they become.

The Origin Story of The Little Libraries shows that unassuming beginning. Hudson’s Todd Bol built the first one and placed it outside his house as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher with a passion for reading.

Madison resident Rick Brooks heard of the idea, and soon the duo founded a nonprofit organization to promote similar installations elsewhere.

The basis of the project has always been simple: Mount a wooden box – many of which look like dollhouses or a tiny one-room schoolhouse – on a post in front of a house, a workplace, in a park, along a trail or by a school, and fill it with books.

The libraries run on the premise of “Take a book, leave a book.” There are no due dates, late fees or library cards, and they’re open 24/7.

Madison’s first Little Library — built outside Café Zoma on the East Side in 2010 — launched a Goliath-sized project. Now, the quirky Little Libraries speckle across all 50 states and more than 30 countries.

Granted, the books you’ll find within the libraries can be a hodge-podge of romance novels, children’s tales or a slew of “For Dummies” and “Popular Mechanics” magazines. But if you’re lucky, you might also find your favorite hero tucked somewhere inside.

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Test your memory by matching photos of some of the 100 objects that define Madison.

Photos are chosen randomly — always two of each. There are easy, medium and expert levels, all of which you can play on any device, but levels below expert will appear better on phones and tablets.