As a career, Bol founded the Global Scholarship Alliance, which provides nursing scholarships for advanced nursing, and Care Forth, an entrepreneurial consulting firm. But he’ll be best remembered as the creator of the Little Free Library movement. In 2009, he built a little box to hold books in front of his house in Hudson, Wisc. The idea: passersby can take a book to read, and either bring it back later or leave another book to share. The next year, when Bol held a garage sale at his house, his mini free library was “discovered” — and the idea took off like wildfire. With his experience in creating entrepreneurial non-profits, in 2012 Bol founded a non-profit to help others create such libraries. His goal: 2,510 of them — to exceed the total of 2,509 libraries created with the help of Andrew Carnegie from 1883 to 1929. The goal was hit months later.
“I really believe in a Little Free Library on every block and a book in every hand,” Bol said about his motives. “Kids reading and people reading to them, you know, it changes everything. It changes the whole attitude of what is valued in a community. A Little Free Library is this sweet little nudge.” In August 2018, the 75,000th Little Free Library was registered by the organization; untold thousands more have been installed, but not registered. In early October, Bol was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After his first round of chemotherapy, doctors found peritoneal cancer, and moved him into hospice care. “He was the best, most generous, goofy, and kind person,” said his son, Todd. “He taught us to be kind to others. To many he was an innovator and genuine change maker. To us, he was dad.” Bol died October 18, at 62.