Among the more creative ideas that multi-family property managers are experimenting with is creating a “Little Free Library” (LFL) as promoted by the Little Free Library Project.
Using the “leave a penny, take a penny” spirit, LFLs are established as a free book exchange for anyone to browse, read, borrow or even keep a book permanently. The system keeps sustains itself because tenants donate the books they no longer want to keep, to pass along for other tenants to read and enjoy.
Generally a property manager will start with a cabinet or corner set aside in one of the common spaces in the apartment complex, ideally in a style that fits the design and atmosphere of the community. Manages can even get creative and have their tenants volunteer to help put one together.
A library that operates on the principles of honesty and sharing is similar to having a community garden. Some communities who have established LFLs have taken it one step further and also host a weekly or monthly reading series or start a book club, to further engage residents and promote literacy and a sense of community.
A few of the potential benefits of apartment community book exchanges include:
• Manager-Tenant Relationship Building: Working together on a project can strengthen the relationships property managers have with their tenants, and free book exchanges are a free and easy way for property managers to interact positively with tenants.
• Tenant Community Building: Many tenants in multi-family apartment complexes report that they feel disconnected from other residents in their apartment building and community. An LFL (particularly with regular readings or events) can connect tenants to each other by creating engaging social events within the community.
• Recycle Old Books: No one likes to throw away a perfectly good book. Giving other people the chance to read old books is a great way to recycle them and pass along good books.
• Increased Literacy in the Tenant Community: Quite simply, when more books are available and circulating among a community, the more people tend to read. Property managers can even grab some pamphlets from their local library and leave them in the LFL to remind tenants that there are additional free book resources available nearby.
• Increased Tenant Retention: Studies show that the more engaged tenants feel in their community, the longer the average tenancy, which reduces turnovers and therefore vacancy rates.
A free tenant book exchange offers an easy, inexpensive way to bring tenants together, improve the quality of their lives, keep old books in circulation and increase tenant retention to reduce vacancy rates.
If you try a Little Free Library in your tenant community, contact us let us know how it works for you!