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Little Free Libraries


Little Free Libraries

The owners of Southern Bistro are dispelling that old adage that nothing in life is free. The Sandy Springs restaurant offers a stash of freebies just inside the door.

The giveaways are books–novels, historical retrospectives, philosophical deep dives and children’s tales, to name a few. They arrive at the bistro from patrons and visitors who drop off and pick up when they’re in the neighborhood.

Just how the book swap started isn’t clear, says owner Coleman Goodrich, but it’s been going strong for about seven months. Patrons stopping by for take-out grabbed something to read while waiting then added the book to their to-go bags.

“I’m not sure if someone approached us about it or not, but it’s pretty popular, and the inventory turns quite frequently,” he says. “I know I’ve brought books from home; one guy brought in a trove of books with lots of Lewis Grizzard titles that are gone. It has a life of its own; we don’t monitor or promote it, but we make sure people can see the sign when they come in.”

While they aren’t free, books at area thrift stores provide avid readers with another affordable way to increase their collections or the scope of their reading material. At Buckhead Thriftique on Miami Circle, books are the third most popular item in stock, behind clothing and housewares. “We have repeat people, even resellers, constantly coming in for books,” says Michelle Krompegal, the store’s retail operations director.

“We have all sorts: children’s, adult, cookbooks, sometimes even school books. They’ve all been donated, so we scan them to see what they’re worth and then price them accordingly.”

Krompegal says it’s unusual to find anything pricier than $3, and the paperbacks and kids’ books are $1. The pricing and displays are overseen by a crew she calls her “book ladies” who tend to the inventory.

Some local libraries also sell affordably priced books that have been donated or are rotating off the shelves. The Buckhead, Northside and Sandy Springs branches of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, as well as some in the DeKalb County system, have “friends” associations that collect and sell books at sales throughout the year. The Sandy Springs location boasts a library store, a dedicated area stocked with affordably priced books. The Northside branch also has a bookstore where patrons are asked to pay whatever they’re able. Funds raised support library activities, including new book purchases.

While picking up a new selection of reading material, bargain hunters might also uncover a gem. At Thriftique, a glossy coffee table book that once retailed for $200 was specially tagged for $50. Occasionally an expensive textbook might also find its way onto the shelves. “We’ve got a book now on thermodynamics for $30 that might be $130 online,” Krompegal says. “You just never know what you’ll find.”


Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library

Buckhead Thriftique

DeKalb Public Library

Southern Bistro

Little Free Libraries

The idea behind the Little Free Libraries is to encourage communities to expand residents’ reading options by having donated books available at no charge. The neighborhood- based program often features cleverly crafted containers such as tiny houses or oversized birdhouses that are placed in parks or other public areas with easy access. A few Little Free Libraries are located at the addresses below:

45 River Park Drive, Sandy Springs 30328
3187 Cates Ave., Brookhaven 30319
209 Peachtree Way, Atlanta 30305
220 Springdale Dr., Atlanta 30305

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