Start a community Book Tree to freecycle your used home library


I stumbled upon a charming find whilst on a family stroll the other day. The sun was shining, the birds chirping, and a gorgeous pine tree situated in the middle of my community stood tall, boasting a bevy of free books.

I had to check for double rainbows, fairy dust, and candy cane houses just to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me.

book tree

Being a former big city gal, I’m still not used to the close neighbourly feel of a friendly rural community. But there it stood, a proud public landmark sharing a wealth of knowledge with no strings attached.

Not one to miss out on a free browsing opportunity for a frugal new read, I shuffled through the cardboard boxes to find a preloved tale — used children’s books for Chloe have been on my radar.

book clubs

Carl laughed at my merriment. He couldn’t remember when the Lavington Book Tree (located across from School Road) first opened for business. “It’s just always been there,” he said.

Searching around the interwebs I found a few Book Tree mentions, along with some courteous rules for would-be browsers:

The Book Tree Rules:

“Please respect our property, restrain your kids (if any) from running around the area for their safety, clean up after yourself and don’t park by the tree as it creates a traffic hazard. Lots of parking available across the street. Visit the tree during the day and respect the neighbourhood. Thank you.”

Sounds great to me. Especially since this freecycled library branch is open year round, even during the snowy chill of Canadian winter.

Cool Reads: The Lavington Book Tree dusted with snow. Photo: Lavcycle.

After experiencing Lavington’s free ‘Tree of Knowledge’, I got to thinking about my own cluttered library in need of a new home.

The Fun of Freecycing

Freecycling is a fun movement where good people give away their unwanted, usable items for free. It’s like recycling since stuff skips the garbage heap and landfill, but it’s more like community good since people who need things take, and those who are done with stuff give. Lather, rinse, repeat. Love it.

The best things in life are free
The Best Things in Life are Free

A short story about friendship and a very long bike ride. Find out why the world needs more people like Simon — The Best Things in Life are Free.

Local Freecycling groups can be found through The Network, via local Facebook groups, and in community newsletters.

Open your own Book Tree branch

Putting down roots in your community by opening your own Book Tree branch can be a fun and frugal way to meet your neighbours, share resources, and declutter those buckled bookshelves hiding in your basement. You’ll save money by skipping the bookstores and reading preloved books. You’ll never be charged an overdue library fee. Plus you’ll encourage reuse of existing books that otherwise might meet the dump.


Sure, you’ll need a way of telling the community when new books are in stock, and reminding neighbours to destock their bulging book shelves. Starting a street Facebook page seems an easy way to get the job done — just invite members to join.

Taking a page from the Lavington Book Tree is free, so I’ll be donating a couple copies of my own book, 397 Ways To Save Money, along with my extras of The Wealthy Barber, and maybe even The Millionaire Teacher for good financial measure.

Paying it forward to the community seems to be a fair price for the children’s books I freecycled for my daughter. Thank you Lavington!



  1. karen August 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    our local paper had a recent article about a new Little Free Library in our area which sounds like the same principal. I like the idea of this one being under a tree.

  2. Tricia August 7, 2012 at 5:28 am

    What happens when it rains?

  3. Daisy@EverythingFinance August 7, 2012 at 6:40 am

    That is so cool! My friend was visiting another place in BC and her host took her to a house where the lady living there is known for her “free” library in her garage. It’s stacked to the rafters, apparently, with free books. Most people drop off books for her that they don’t read anymore and can take ones that they need. Such an awesome idea.

  4. Earth and Money August 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I’d never heard of this before, but what a great idea! I suppose it does have to be maintained though – as Tricia said, rain or snow would ruin the books. Are these boxes out 24/7, or does someone put them out/take them in at times?

  5. John August 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    What a great idea! Love it! Hmm, I’m not sure if there’s a book tree in my city, but that’s definitely something to check out. Who knows what treasures await!

  6. Dianna August 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    This is such a great idea. I would also like to know how they handle the weather issues. It saddens me to see people just throwing away their books.

  7. Ruth August 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    In my neighbourhood, in the 1100 block of Vista Heights, Victoria BC, a neighbour out up a brightly coloured cupboard which is our neighbourhood book exchange. Leave a book, take a book is the rule. I have sometimes taken two and left five, but no one counts. 😉

    Cheers from Ruth

  8. Emma August 8, 2012 at 7:41 am

    There are lots of these in Victoria — mostly the brightly coloured cupboard variety. There’s another one on Clare St.

  9. Heather August 8, 2012 at 8:33 am

    This is adorable. I absolutely love it and want to live somewhere where i could actually put up one of my own.

  10. Cheryl August 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I’ve seen the brightly coloured cupboard type in Vancouver. We get far too much rain for open boxes. I personally do Bookcrossing, leaving books in random places for others to pick up. I sometimes put them in a zip lock bag and hang them from a tree. As well I belong to the local Bookcrossing Meetup, where we bring books to exchange or just leave for others to pick up. You can look up bookcrossing at and of course Meetups are in many cities. The second Tuesday of every month is official Bookcrossing Meetup and you will find them in many cities across the world. Just check out

  11. Joeline August 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    My Nephrologist’s office maintains a book exchange on a lovely set of shelves in their waiting room. Take a book, leave a book. I generally leave many more than I take but that’s okay. Imagine…books to take with you instead of magazine articles you never get to finish. I definitely look forward to my regular appointments and even sometimes stop by just to trade books. It’s a real blessing to seriously ill patients who find it difficult to get to a library or out to buy a book.

  12. NCN August 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    This is cool. I remember, when I was a kid, a guy in our neighborhood did this with the tools in his garage. Basically, he opened the door to his free-standing garage, had a little piece of paper for signing our tools, and people were free to check them out – or donate their own tools for others to use.

  13. James August 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    This is a great idea! A great way to get a community involved and receive a great load of knowledge for FREE!!! I would definitely do this in my neighborhood.

  14. Monique (@MamaRvThereYet) August 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Love the idea as well. I don’t have a garage, and I’m curious how the rain is handled, but still thinks its a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing.

Leave A Comment