Skip to main content

Gainesville, Florida Launches Book Vending Machine Project

gainesville florida book vending machine Little Free Libraries are small free-standing structures where the reading public can leave or take a book with no registration or library card required.

These volunteer-run libraries are often small, wooden purpose-built structures about the size of a breadbox, but some are built into repurposed objects like newspaper boxes, phone booths, refrigerators, or commercial vending machines.

The city of Gainesville just launched one such little free library. Last week its parks & rec dept installed a donated vending machine at the Porters Community Center. Launched as part of the "Feed Your Brain",  the machine offers free, age-appropriate, new or gently-used books for children age three and older.

“When Kelly Jenson, one of our recreation aides, suggested the idea to other staff, it was contagious!” said Diane Latson-Harden, recreation leader. “The team set out to do the same in the Gainesville community.”

Yes, this is a converted vending machine, but when you get down to it this is still Little Free Libraries. It fits all the practical requirements of an LFL so it should be regarded as such.

I know some might focus on the size or the hardware, but that is irrelevant. What matters here are the free books and the ease of access. And books, it has.

The machine was donated by Canteen Vending Corp, a local vending machine supplier. Additionally, the company’s staff ran a book drive in late 2015 that netted several hundred books which were also donated  to the project.

The idea was inspired by similar projects in DC and Detroit which had received a lot of press. “Recreation staff learned about a similar program that was initiated in Washington, D.C., which aimed to serve underrepresented youth in the community by providing free books to increase reading skills,” said Shannon Keleher, recreation manager.

Three more little free libraries are scheduled to be installed over the next few months at rec centers and community centers in Gainesville, FL.


Similar Articles


RAD August 3, 2016 um 10:49 am

A Little Free Library for At-Risk Kids. The display of books by cover in a well lit enclosure makes sense for kids though the large format books for younger readers would be better at the bottom. The controlled access of a vending machine may help with minimizing abuse by unsupervised kids in a community center and there is the novelty of choosing/entering your choice. Its costly in terms of vending machine donations, targeted book donations, and volunteer time but it could reach kids/parents that can’t or won’t use a library.

If it works, this leaves you with a tough social science question: does getting more books in the hands of at-risk kids improve their outcomes in life?

Michelle August 3, 2016 um 5:10 pm

We’ve had these in Gainesville for many years. There’s one at the driveway of UUF, and there was one at the Green House on NW 2nd st at Pax Christi house too.

Write a Comment