Reading has been a favorite past-time of mine since I was a kid. To this day, I still find comfort in the magic of a good story.
What I love even more than reading is sharing my favorite books with others. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to find people to trade books with, but that’s where the Little Free Library system comes in handy.
Shaped like a large birdhouse with a little door on the front, the Little Free Library near my house has helped me discover new reads and share awesome books with my neighbors (or whoever happens to stumble upon it).
While now it seems like almost every neighborhood has its own Little Library, the proliferation of Little Libraries is a fairly recent phenomenon.
After opening the first one in 2010 on a bike path in Madison, Wisconsin, Little Free Library Co-Founder Todd Bol continued to spread the joy of the Little Free Library system, and many people have donated to the organization and purchased their own Little Free Library through the non-profit. Others have built their own “libraries,” inspired by Todd’s example.
If you’ve never visited or exchanged a book at a Little Free Library, it’s a really simple process – take a book, leave a book. There’s no time limit for how long you can “check out” a book, and there’s definitely no library card needed.
With many tucked away in quiet neighborhoods and others placed along local trails, each Little Library on Mercer Island has its own unique characteristics and book selection. See if you can find them all with this list below, and consider exchanging a book at each one you find!
Officially registered Little Free Libraries on Mercer Island
(If you’re having trouble finding the exact location of an official Little Free Library, search “Mercer Island” or the charter number on the Map.)
Charter #11067: Near SE 24th St and 78th Ave SE
The first Little Library on Mercer Island. This one is located near a bike route. Open the door, and you’ll often find free dog treats courtesy of the owners of this library – they’re much more dog friendly than your average library!
Charter #40437: 4545 Island Crest Way
Set up by the Congregational Church on Mercer Island, this Little Library has a wide range of books on topics that relate to people of all ages. The nicest part: there’s plenty of parking at this location, so you can park and read as many books from this library as you’d like.
Charter #7866: 90th Ave SE, just North of Ellis Pond Park
Constructed to resemble a red barn with white trim, this one is tucked away in a neighborhood on the border of Ellis Pond Park and regularly features popular novels, so make sure you bring something new and exciting to share!
Charter #16083: Near 94th Ave SE and SE 64th St
Readers are usually pretty creative people, so it’s no surprise that this Little Library is also decorated with lots of art and a ribbon. But even with the red bow, this one may be harder to find, as it blends in with the trees and brush around it.
Charter #43317: 7400 86th Ave SE
Located in Wildwood Park, this one was built as a community service project. Bring a blanket and a picnic basket with you and enjoy your book outside when the weather’s nice and sunny!
Charter #32565: 2740 W Mercer Way
Sponsored by JayMarc Homes. This Little Free Library stands outside the history “Symphony House” on Mercer Island, a home built in 1910 and restored by JayMarc in 1915. Leave a note in the JayMarc journal about your experience with the library and the stories you’ve read!
Charter #22188: Off of Island Crest Way and Parkside Lane
Stumble upon this hidden gem off a small neighborhood lane in Mercer Island, and you’ll find a beautifully decorated Little Library covered in hand-drawn art and literary quotes. We don’t have a picture for this one, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to find this unique Little Library!
Even more Little Free Libraries on Mercer Island!
These libraries aren’t registered with the organization, but that makes finding them even more fun since they’re “off the grid.” You could probably spend a whole day on a “Little Free Library Scavenger Hunt,” searching for these little treasure chests all over the Island.
Neighborhood hint: Mercer Ridge
This one is adorned with a quote by Ray Bradbury: “There are worse crimes than burning books. One is not reading them.” Find this one and discover what the rest of the plaque says!
Neighborhood Hint: East Mercer
Does this stairway look familiar? This one may not always have American flags attached to it, so be on the lookout — its wooden exterior blends in with all the plants and trees.
Neighborhood Hint: Funny Farm
Something this colorful (and bright) will be easy to spot from the street, but you should definitely get up close to this one and check out the beautiful artwork on its sides.
Neighborhood Hint: South End
This quaint Little Library looks like a miniature version of the house behind it, located on a south end Mercer Island street. We love this Little Library’s sweet hand-painted Scandinavian design, which perfectly complements the home behind it.
Neighborhood Hint: Parkwood
Located in the Mercer Firs neighborhood, this uniquely structured library also has a stone bench conveniently placed right behind it. Stay for a while and enjoy your new book. This Little Library was also sadly the target of vandalism, but it was restored soon after it was damaged.
Neighborhood Hint: Parkwest
Keep your eyes peeled for this one – also hiding in a neighborhood, it looks like a miniature version of the other houses on the street, except it has a book for its roof. Don’t forget to sign their Guest Book, and let them know all about the scavenger hunt you went on to find their Little Library.
For a closer look at some of Mercer Island’s Little Free Libraries, check out our gallery: