Little Free Adventure

I don’t sit still well. It’s no secret to anyone who knows me. If I am seated for more than a moment, chances are I’m soaking in a good book. A couple of weeks ago, as we began to claw our way out of a typical steel-gray Pittsburgh winter, I realized that I was out of new books to read. And I was bored.

Combining a bright sunny Saturday afternoon with desperate restlessness, I proclaimed to my family that we needed an adventure. One that would quench my thirst for a good read. Though the library boasts an endless smorgasbord of books, I needed to find a treasure… something unexpected. Then I remember that Mt. Lebanon serves as home to an array of Little Free Libraries. After a quick Google search, I found an online map to help me plan my visits to these tiny destinations throughout Mt. Lebanon.

A child stands next to a Little Free Library with the door open.
Cathy Kaplan took her family on an adventure to visit Little Free Libraries around Lebo.

I plugged a bunch of addresses into my phone and informed my husband, my teenager, and my dog that we needed to pile into the car and start our treasure hunt. I packed up three books to exchange in case I discovered something I wanted to take. The concept of these Little Free Libraries is simple… find a book, leave a book. And with that, we were off.

A row of books inside a wooden framed Little Free Library.
A look inside the Little Free Library outside of Foster Elementary School.

Stop #1: Foster Elementary School, 700 Vermont Avenue

Being a former Foster student, my daughter led the way to the box of books she helped set up during her elementary school years. She pointed out the rainbow-colored paint splatters she added to the box when the kids began the project a few years ago.

We opened it up to discover tiny slim book spines lining the shelves. It’s no surprise that this Little Free Library houses mainly children’s books. My kiddo spotted Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs and informed me it’s a popular title (I’m out of the loop on this front). I’m guessing since this library resides adjacent to the school’s playground, it sees its share of elementary school movement.

The award for most interesting title at the time of visit: The Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz.

A Little Free Library, surrounded by flowers, in front of a school building.
Little Free Library on Washington Road.

Stop #2: Washington Elementary School, 735 Washington Road

If you’re a frequent flyer to Uptown, you’ve probably crossed paths with this one. Though it sits right in front of an elementary school, the area sees foot traffic of all types. The Little Free Library here offers books for all audiences and ages.

My daughter found her perfect book the week before our impromptu adventure. At the time, she didn’t have one to contribute. So, I decided to drop off my copy of A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron to complete the exchange. I figured this universal and popular title might be snagged by a passerby.

The award for most interesting title at the time of visit: O Horrible Murder by Robert B. Partridge

Lots of books fill this Little Free Library.

Stop#3: Parkview Drive

After visiting Uptown, we wound our way to Bower Hill Road and ended at Parkview Drive. The Little Free Library sits right at the sidewalk’s edge and we found it overflowing with an array of good reads.

If you’re handy and have ever dreamed of running your own library, you can join the ranks like this neighbor and erect your own Little Free Library in your front yard!

After taking a peek at the titles and waving to a resident cat, I left a book since I wanted to win the award for the most interesting title at this one.

The award for most interesting title at the time of visit: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

This Little Free Library is a double decker.

Stop #4: Marshall Drive

As we worked our way back home, we stopped at one final spot off Connor Road. At the time of our visit, the Little Free Library on Marshall Drive, with its cute shingled roof, held a variety of popular titles and authors including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Alice in Wonderland and Stephen King novels.

This destination seems to generally offer young adult and adult books. It wouldn’t be difficult to snag a compelling novel from this location.

The award for most interesting title at the time of visit: Poetic Remedies for Troubled Times by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Books to donate.

We confused our dog as we finished our four stops, since none of them incorporated much of a walk. The poor dog probably kept thinking, “Why are they stopping, looking at a box, and getting back into the car?” With that said, we headed home.

As I entered the house, I realized that I never found anything to read and I still had a paperback to contribute. I was too caught up in seeing what treasures awaited with each visit. I guess I’ll have to journey back out again sometime soon. The good news is, I’m bound to see a whole new slew of titles on my next adventure.

Interested in taking your own Little Free Adventure? You can find all the Little Free Libraries in the neighorhood on this handy map!

Read a 2021 story on the construction of the Osage Road Little Free Library and learn how to build your own.