9. Palácio Nacional de Mafra Library in Mafra, Portugal This 300 year
A more typical, but still fabulous, Little Free Library. JOHN PHELAN/CC BY-SA 3.0
While the Little Free Library website offers blueprints to create basic book-exchange boxes, many builders get creative. Volunteers make Little Free Libraries shaped like birdhouses, castles, and spaceships, or themed after Doctor Who and Harry Potter. Others are made with attached benches or added greenery, and reams of Pinterest boards depict interesting designs. Contests celebrate the most creative takes.
Still, a Pizza Hut-themed Little Free Library was new to me. A few days later, in Montana, I plotted a course for a random Pizza Hut. Sure enough, there was a Little Free Library out front. Topped with the signature red roof, it was filled with magazines and classic young adult books, such as Johnny Tremain and Catherine, Called Birdy.
When I called Pizza Hut, I was informed that this was a franchisee project, rather than a national endeavor. “We were looking at ways to become involved in our markets locally,” says Lynda Carrier-Metz, the chief marketing manager of Restaurant Management Company of Wichita. In 2016, Carrier-Metz won a $10,000 volunteer grant from Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands to construct 20 book-exchange boxes in front of restaurants. According to Carrier-Metz, it came down to combining community involvement with “what people were doing already”: that is, going to Pizza Hut. “In many towns, the libraries aren’t open after 5 or 6 p.m.,” she adds. “We wanted them to come to Pizza Hut and bring their books, and get other books.”