I recently came across a wooden structure outside a house in my neighborhood, similar-looking to a birdhouse, but with a large window in the front “door.” Inside were several used-books with a wide range of subject matter and atop the structure I saw a sign noting that this was The Little Free Library, Take a Book, Return a Book. The sign also included the web-link to www.littlefreelibrary.org, and a unique number. Although I wasn’t interested in taking a book at the time I was very intrigued by the concept and decided to do a little research when I got home. Upon further research on the website I found out that this one structure in my neighborhood was part of an entire nationwide community movement.
The Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2009 by Todd Bol and Rick Brooks and based in Wisconsin. Since then these libraries have popped up in front yards and public places all across the United States and even in locations throughout the world. Anybody can create their own library either with the company’s pre-manufactured structures for sale on their website, or by using your own creativity and woodworking skills with their plans and tips for builders. After creating your library you can register it through the Little Free Library website for $35 where you will then receive your charter number and have your library represented on the official map.
The library structures can range from simple to extravagant. Most libraries are similar in size with average dimensions of 19″ x 23″ x 16″. The basic model offered for sale is made of weather-resistant plywood and featues a relatively standard design that can be a great decorating project for the kids. From there, you can get really fancy and build up the design to a log cabin, barn, or even a British phone booth! The designs can also be made up of multiple shelves to allow for even more book storage and sharing.
If you choose to build your own library, it makes for a fast and easy woodworking project. The organization encourages builders to use recycled and found materials to make your library unique as well as environmentally friendly. You can incorporate almost any sort of material into your library so long as it is safe to the touch and weather resistant. Some people have constructed their libraries in honor of a loved one, and have incorporated something of theirs into the materials in order to make a lasting legacy. And once you get to the actual painting and decoration of your library, the sky is the limit! Some corporate organizations will incorporate their logo onto the library (especially if they have sponsored the structure), or even made replicas of their actual businesses. Whatever you use to build and design your library make it unique and inviting in order to encourage your community to use it.
As for the books that you supply within your library, you can either supply them yourself with what you think people might be interested in reading from your own collection, or you can seek out donations from your local bookstore. Just be sure to have enough books in there at a time to keep people coming back and sharing their own.
Be sure to check back in a few weeks, as Highland Woodworking’s owner Chris Bagby and his wife Sanne are currently building a Little Free Library in their front yard in Atlanta using recycled materials. We plan to share some photos of their project on this blog as work progresses. If you happen to get interested and decide to build you own Little Free Library, be sure to send us a photo so we can include it in a future blog post.
Click HERE to see Sanne’s first entry about the beginning process of building a Little Free Library and her finding of the wood materials to make her project complete.