Santa Barbara’s Little Free Libraries
Find Your Next Great Read Right in Your Own Neighborhood
By Ellie Bouwer | July 13, 2022
What better way to dig into summer reading than with free books? There are 150,000 Little Free Libraries around the world, sharing more than 70 million books each year — including at least 70 registered libraries in the greater Santa Barbara area. These little libraries operate on an honor system, giving free access to books for all. They’re also a great way for neighbors to share books and connect with each other about literature.
Here are some of the best Little Free Libraries in the Santa Barbara area. For more information and to download a free app that includes a map, visit littlefreelibrary.org.
Click here to enlarge the map.
Little Bird Library
570 Carlo Drive, Goleta, CA 93117 | Charter # 136078
The Little Bird Library is cute, functional, and accessible. It’s designed after a classic birdhouse, with a little red canary on top and solar powered fairy lights strung around the box. The books are primarily mysteries and spiritual wellness books, as well as a few kids’ books in Spanish and English. It is also only a short walk to Stow Canyon Open Space, a small park with shade and seating where one can bring their new books for outdoor reading.
Mrs. Marzak’s Sunflower LFL
439 Valdez Avenue, Goleta, CA 93117 | Charter # 124906
Perfect for children of all ages, this library sits on a gravel pathway with a comfortable bench and a tree providing shade. The library itself, painted with sunflowers on the sides, is separated into four different sections by age – there are books for everyone from toddlers to young adults in both Spanish and English. There is hand sanitizer inside the library free to use, the neighborhood is quiet, and there is plenty of parking on the street nearby.
Shady Oak Library
3308 Calle Fresno, Santa Barbara, CA 93105 | Charter # 103447
In a beautiful shady clearing off the road in San Roque, Shady Oak LFL is easily the largest library on this list. There are books of all genres and this library is a vibrant spot for the community – be prepared to run into other book lovers during your visit. There’s plenty of parking nearby, and Stevens Park is only a short walk away for those who enjoy reading in nature.
Ministry of Magic LFL
302 Santa Anita Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93105 | Charter # 31064
The Ministry of Magic LFL has a creative Harry Potter themed design. There is plenty of shade on the sidewalk next to the library, as well as a free produce box nearby offering fresh fruit and veggies. The neighborhood is gorgeous and peaceful, but does not offer much street parking nearby. The books inside are a well-organized mix of thriller, mystery, and fantasy novels.
Nanny’s Kids Library
2010 Chino Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 | Charter # 135590
The Nanny’s Kids LFL provides a bright and colorful little library for local children. The neighborhood has parking available on the street. The library holds a small collection of children’s books in both Spanish and English, but is in need of donations. Unfortunately, the library is too high for very young children to reach by themselves, but is otherwise easily accessible.
Pueblo Street Library
23 East Pueblo Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105 | Charter # 104506
This is a gorgeous little oasis in Upper East Santa Barbara. The library is overhung by lovely greenery, and there is a seat in the shade for sitting and reading. The library is large and very full, boasting a vast array of different genres, there is truly something for everyone – toddler books in both Spanish and English, YA fiction novels, magazines, comics, etc. There is also a neighborhood comment book where community members may request books or leave feedback, and lots of parking on the street nearby.
Planterbox on Top
1813 Castillo Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 | Charter # 117624
This LFL on Castillo Street is a well-decorated asymmetrical box with a planter box and an owl figurine on top. It’s easily accessible from the street, although it does not offer seating or shade. The books inside are clean and organized, mostly consisting of lifestyle, comedy, and mystery novels. The neighborhood is lively, and there is plenty of parking available on the street.
521 Santa Barbara Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
This Little Free Library is located in front of the Vera Cruz house, designed by architect Jeff Shelton. The design is creative and unique, modeled after a vintage Ford buggy and there is a bench nearby on the sidewalk under a shady tree to sit and read. There is a small pond underneath and greenery surrounding the library, and parking is available on the street nearby. Unfortunately, the library could use some repairs and book donations.
Casa Cota’s Book Nook
1127 E. Cota St., Santa Barbara, CA 93103 | Charter # 116486
Casa Cota’s Book Nook is well-organized and clean. The books inside are mostly YA fiction. It’s accessible from the sidewalk, and parking is sparsely available. The design is unique and eye-catching, with a two-tier main compartment, an asymmetrical roof, and a shelf on the side to hold your things while you browse.
Planter Box Library
115 Santa Ynez St., Santa Barbara, CA 93103 | Charter # 78051
This LFL pops out of a planter box along a crowd of growing succulents. There are solar powered lights connected to allow for nighttime accessibility, and although there is no shade or seating immediately available, there is plenty of parking nearby on the street. The bottom half of the compartment is children’s and young adult’s fiction, and the top is full of historical and dramatic fiction.
115 La Vista Grande, Santa Barbara, CA 93103 | Charter # 25658
This LFL shows obvious signs of careful maintenance from both the owner and the community. The library is clean, full, and well-organized, with a shade on top to prevent the books from getting damaged by the sun. On a nearby pole is a monthly book suggestion list, with synopses of each book recommended. In the drawer, there is a neighborhood comment book full of thanks and praise from the community – the library is clearly very well-used and widely loved. The books inside are mostly historical fiction novels, but there are also mystery, comedy, and YA fiction novels.
624 Chelham Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93108 | Charter # 26217
Located near Lotusland, the Strickland LFL is tucked into a lovely enclave on the side of the street. Street parking is widely available nearby, and there is even a bike rack next to the library and a bench where visitors can sit and read in the shade. The books inside are separated by compartments: the books in the lower compartment are mainly children’s books, and the top cabinet is full of novels, biographies, and comics. The library is in need of some upkeep – the paint is wearing off and there is an empty compartment on the side, the purpose of which is unclear.
Braeden Clausen’s Eagle Scout Project
Manning Park Youth Center, Santa Barbara, CA 93108 | Charter # 87684
Located at the Manning Park Youth Center in Montecito, this library is focused on youth reading, and has a collection of novels and picture books for kids, as well as a few parenting books. The library is clean and well-maintained, and there is a large seating area right next to it. Visitors can also take their new books on a walk through lovely Manning Park to find a place to sit and read peacefully.
Figueroa Street LFL
309 Figueroa St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101
This colorful Little Free Library on Figueroa Street sits in front of a cheerfully colorful house, with a lovely garden surrounding it. The owners built a shelf underneath the main compartment for the Independent to be dispersed each week. There is plenty of parking on the street nearby.