Libraries can be the cornerstone of any community, and now there's a new trend that allows readers to share their stories and pay their passion forward, one book at a time.

So-called "little free libraries" have been popping up around the United States, and they started with a simple idea of sharing books with neighbours in order to start conversations and community connections.

The idea is spreading to Canada, too.

On a recent day, Calgary resident Cheri Macaulay showed off her new mini library, which looks a little bit like a bird feeder.

The brightly coloured little library is open all day and all night, seven days a week.

"The idea is you come along, you snag a book, you borrow it and you bring it back when you're finished. And hopefully you bump into some other neighbours while you're at it and have a conversation," she said.

While McCaulay believes that it's the first such library in Calgary, the idea has been around in the U.S. for a while now.

In fact, it began in the American Midwest three years ago when Todd Bolt, a resident of Hudson, Wisconsin, created a waterproof book box and put it outside his home.

Bolt created the book box to honour his late mother, who was a teacher with a passion for the written word.

"I created this little library that was a one-room school house that sat on my post outside my house, and that was it. I didn't plan on making any more libraries," he told NBC News.

But the idea spread, and friend Rick Brooks picked up on it. Brooks promoted the libraries, and they began spreading.

"The primary function of these little libraries is to bring people together, promote a sense of community and wow, does that work," Brooks said.

Now, the libraries can be found in more than 30 states across the U.S.

It's also gone international, with more than 20 countries taking part, including Canada.

Much of the fun comes from the imagination of those taking part, and some of the libraries have been designed as beehives and canoes.

Meanwhile, in Calgary, Macaulay is waiting for the ground to thaw so she can mount her library on a pole in her yard.

When CTV's Janet Dirks visited Macaulay's home, however, neighbours were already looking to browse some books.

One neighbour remarked: "She just lost her first book."