Author Topic: Little Free Library  (Read 10314 times)

MrsPete

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Little Free Library
« on: December 15, 2014, 06:47:05 AM »
Has anyone heard of this? 

It's a cool concept:  You put out a box in your front yard along with books you're no longer using, and people stop and "trade them out".  The goals, of course, are to promote literacy and reading . . . but also to encourage generosity and a spirit of community within a neighborhood. 

It wouldn't work well in my current neighborhood because it's not a "walking neighborhood", but I'm interested in starting a Little Free Library when we move in the near future. 

I've looked at a bunch of library "boxes" on the internet, and the one that interested me most was made from an old kitchen cabinet.  I don't actually have an old kitchen cabinet, but that's not a difficult thing to obtain.   Of course, it needs a roof to keep out the elements, and that's what's concerning me most:  Waterproofing. 

Any advice on the physical building of the thing? 

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2014, 06:50:05 AM »
We've gone from having 2-3 in our neighborhood to having at least 15 within a mile radius. One person was even so smart as to put a plastic lawn chair right next to the library so people could read right there!

lakemom

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2014, 06:59:02 AM »
Rather than making one out of an old cabinet I would be on the lookout for a reasonably priced (new or used) small plastic shed (Rubbermaid makes them as do a couple of others).  Once you have that you can build a wooden (or plastic) shelving unit to fit inside and the elements shouldn't be a problem unless someone leaves open a door.

wtjbatman

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2014, 07:25:45 AM »
We've gone from having 2-3 in our neighborhood to having at least 15 within a mile radius. One person was even so smart as to put a plastic lawn chair right next to the library so people could read right there!

I actually did the exact same thing. And if someone spends too much time reading and I feel they are monopolizing the library chair, I activate the strategically placed sprinkler head to give them a wet surprise.

slugline

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2014, 07:36:27 AM »
One popped up in our neighborhood within the last month. It was a homemade cabinet styled after the TARDIS from the Doctor Who television series. Someday I'd like to plant a LFL box on my front lawn too.

MandalayVA

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2014, 07:42:58 AM »
There are at least three in my neighborhood.  It's a great concept.

MrsPete

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2014, 09:24:49 AM »
Wow, y'all live in better places than I do. 

Any hints on what makes the difference between a GREAT little library vs. a ho-hum library?  What dimensions do they tend to be?  I'm still interested in waterproofing materials.  Do people bring their books inside the house when a real gully-washer of a rain comes along? 

Tardis -- I'm not surprised.  I probably saw more Tardi (plural of Tardises?) than any other single thing when I searched online. 

A Rubbermaid shed -- I don't know what that looks like, but now I'm thinking about the Little Tikes playhouse my kids had.  But all adults (thinking big people and the elderly) can't fit inside that little door.  And I'm not sure I want to put it in my front yard.  I don't want to attract children to think my yard is an adult-free playground.  In fact, do I want a sign indicating "Supervised Children Are Welcome"? 

Bench -- yes, I saw one picture that had a really nice yellow garden bench beside the little library.  I'm thinking that once we move I'd like to set up a tiny "courtyard" with concrete pavers, a bench, and the little library.

I'm excited about this project! 

Chranstronaut

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2014, 11:52:55 AM »
Any hints on what makes the difference between a GREAT little library vs. a ho-hum library?

I think having a theme or genre specific library might be helpful, especially if you have particular reading tastes in the books you would put in.  If you end up with other little libraries in the neighborhood, then the genres might encourage more trading between them to keep the theme of each library going?

Keeping an eye on the content turnover would also help make it great.  If it seems like certain books are never picked up after months of time, it might be a good idea to replace them with something else.

As for rain-proofing them, I've seen a few of these in rainy Washington and they seem to do fine.  As long as there isn't wind blowing the rain through the cracks, a well sealed wooden or plastic case is probably sufficient.  If you oversize the roof a little, it'll keep the drips from hitting the body of the book case and help keep it a little drier.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2014, 12:23:23 PM »
There are at least three of these within a mile of my house. I would consider putting one up in front of my own house, but there's another one just around the corner and I don't think we need another one quite so close. I have contributed a few old books to the neighborhood LFLs, and I always look inside when I walk by one to see if there's anything that piques my interest. The "typical" one I see tends to have a peaked roof with shingles to keep the inside dry, is about 18-24" wide, and tall enough to have two levels of books (some resting on the bottom and one shelf above that).

I have seen reports on Nextdoor (like a neighborhood Facebook) of people who have taken most of the books out of one LFL, presumably to sell them. Sad, but not entirely surprising. One suggestion to mitigate this is to put some sort of label on the cover or front end paper marking the book as property of the Little Free Library system, and directing the reader to return it when they're finished with it.

LennStar

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2014, 12:57:53 PM »

mozar

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2014, 06:30:24 PM »
I think its a cute idea, but it's tough to figure out what people will actually read, and there is not enough room for variety (for the one in my neighborhood at least). I look in, and I have brought some books, but have never read anything.

MrsPete

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2014, 08:49:32 PM »
A theme-specific library makes sense in a neighborhood in which multiple libraries exist, but we don't have ANY in this area, so I'm not sure I'd want to specialize. 

I'm glad to hear that weatherproofness may not be the bug-a-boo I was imagining. 

Love the phone booth; it would be even more cool if it could be a British phone booth!  But I'm not sure I want something that big.  I'm still thinking of something roughly the size of an upper kitchen cabinet. 

On the official site I saw that you can buy a pretty stamp that reads "Always a gift - this book cannot be sold".  I thought that sounded like a good idea.  I myself would only put in books purchased used -- they're so easy to find. 

Speaking of the official site, I see that you can register to be an "official little free library" for not-quite $40.  This gets you an official plaque for your library (which is nice) and a charter number.  But I don't see any point in paying to be "official".  I can live without being on the website.  Or am I missing something? 



samburger

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2014, 09:41:52 PM »
There's at least one on every block in my neighborhood. Most of them are built to match the homes, many have accompanying benches. They're adorable, and I love love love the system. It's a joy to have around, especially when you have really good circulation in a high-walk area.

Speaking of the official site, I see that you can register to be an "official little free library" for not-quite $40.  This gets you an official plaque for your library (which is nice) and a charter number.  But I don't see any point in paying to be "official".  I can live without being on the website.  Or am I missing something? 

Most of the LFLs in my neighborhood are registered. It seems like someone other than the owner might drop off books, so there might be material benefit to registering? I sometimes notice a pattern across many different LFLs, like they're getting books from the same place. I'll investigate and report back.

AllieVaulter

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2014, 10:30:46 PM »
These are all over Portland.  When I first saw them I thought they were so cute, but then immediately thought, but it'll be no time before they're vandalized.  Surprisingly, 5 years later and I've never seen any vandalized.  I don't think it's even that I live in a particularly good part of town (I don't).  I think maybe vandals feel more comfortable attacking a faceless business rather than a very personal community feature. 

Most of the ones I've seen look essentially like tiny houses.  Peaked roofs and shingles on them.  I've never noticed water damage.  Portland gets plenty of rain, but we also don't get those "pull over to the side of the road because the rain is coming down so hard" deluges like the midwest. 

homehandymum

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2014, 12:27:24 AM »
Very cute idea.  We have a bus stop right at our front gate, and I've thought about having a little book shelf out there.  I'll probably not get around to it, but I like the idea :)

MrsPete

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2014, 09:38:02 AM »
I'm thinking the concept may've originated in the Pacific Northwest area; that would explain why so many exist in that area. 

Yes, most of the pictures I've seen online look like little houses, and that does appeal to me.

I read some stories online about vandalism, but they seemed few in number compared to the number of libraries about which I read.  And I wouldn't put in books of value -- not when used books are so easy to find, and I assume that patrons would "trade in books"; thus, keeping things going.   

Jellyfish

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2014, 09:59:47 AM »
I built mine to look like my house, using building supplies I had on hand (like extra shingles from my last roof repair, an old cabinet pull I had laying around, etc.)  I think the only actual expense was the 4x4 post, the plexiglass for the window, and the hinges.

I have had it for nearly a year and I have filled it with books 3 times. Books just come and go at random, it's kind of amazing.  I have it registered at littlefreelibrary.org and its on their map, but I think my neighborhood has just discovered it and books just kind of show up when it gets low.

I have not had any problems with vandalism and have gotten great feedback and comments (it's a kick to sit on my enclosed front porch, just out of sight, and hear people discover and comment on the library, and look through it).

While I try to avoid Pinterest there are some great Little Free Library boards with inspiration for ideas and even downloadable building plans.

Cromacster

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2014, 10:18:39 AM »
I saw the first maybe 3 years ago.  Since then a bunch popped up in my neighborhood.  There is one that is Harry Potter themed and looks like Hogwarts Castle.  They definitely put some time into it, it's very cool.

My neighbor across the street put one in.  About two weeks later the lady 2 houses down put on in.  Which seemed odd, but whatever I have two to choose from.

Note:  Be sure to add in sharpie inside the cover that the book is for Little Free Library.  There have been people who take the books and try to resell them.

MrsPete

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2014, 07:34:36 PM »
A little free library that looks like Hogwarts!  Wow!  Best idea EVER!  That's so me! 

Exhale

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2014, 08:29:24 AM »
My niece's school put one up in front - the kids loved the project. Then I saw one put up in front of an neighborhood art school for kids. I like that schools are getting into it too (before I'd only though of it as a residential thing to do). In Port Townsend, WA (seaside town on the Olympic peninsula) there a woman who has a poetry box in front of her house where she posts a new poem every week.

So cool when people find ways to interacts with those passing by.

fidgiegirl

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2014, 08:14:52 PM »
I believe it originated in the Twin Cities.  A man that was a friend's teacher many years ago was involved somehow.  http://littlefreelibrary.org/ourhistory/  Yep.  Hudson, WI - they don't wanna think so, but part of the Twin Cities metro.  :)

We have many in our neighborhood, but sadly some HAVE been vandalized here - run over by a vehicle, apparently, or firecrackers set off inside them.  :(  We like them, have not been using so much since baby came along, but like being able to grab a book.  We contribute more books than we grab.

Amanda

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2014, 08:56:24 PM »
I have one in my yard.

I love it. People stop by nearly every day to borrow a book, or leave one. I just check inside it once in a while and straighten it up. I also have a bench in the front yard next to it. I built mine out of hardiboard we had lying around. So far it has withstood several winters quite well. It is quite popular in my neighborhood!

jordanread

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #22 on: December 22, 2014, 09:10:15 AM »
I think I'm going to do this. I live in a pretty bad part of town, so it would be interesting to see how this goes here. Although I wish I would have seen this before I sent two boxes of books to good will. It'll also be a good way to put one of my unused book shelves to good use.

oldtoyota

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2014, 01:16:26 PM »
Wow, y'all live in better places than I do. 

Any hints on what makes the difference between a GREAT little library vs. a ho-hum library?  What dimensions do they tend to be?  I'm still interested in waterproofing materials.  Do people bring their books inside the house when a real gully-washer of a rain comes along? 

The ones I've seen have an eave that extend over the door. The door itself is waterproof. The rain would need to come sideways for a long time before it got into the library.

oldtoyota

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2014, 01:21:20 PM »
I think I'm going to do this. I live in a pretty bad part of town, so it would be interesting to see how this goes here. Although I wish I would have seen this before I sent two boxes of books to good will. It'll also be a good way to put one of my unused book shelves to good use.

I live in a not-so-great part of town, and I think that is all the more reason to give it a go. I've not started on the project yet and am not 100% decided about it. I was thinking about "sharing" with some neighbors.

jordanread

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2014, 01:23:35 PM »
I think I'm going to do this. I live in a pretty bad part of town, so it would be interesting to see how this goes here. Although I wish I would have seen this before I sent two boxes of books to good will. It'll also be a good way to put one of my unused book shelves to good use.

I live in a not-so-great part of town, and I think that is all the more reason to give it a go. I've not started on the project yet and am not 100% decided about it. I was thinking about "sharing" with some neighbors.
Yeah, me too. The neighbors caddy corner from me are on the corner, but the property line makes a small section that could be very useful. It'd be nice to experiment with the transformative potential of it.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #26 on: December 29, 2014, 03:12:41 PM »
I used to live near one. It was on a stick, shaped like a tiny house, and had a clear door to the whole front - it was about the size of one bookshelf. It was waterproofed inside with pond liner cut and stapled close and painted with glow-in-the-dark stars. It had a sign: "Take a book and leave a book". The roof was covered in moss and one time I bought a tiny dolls house picnic basket and left it there - for the pixies! The owner loved that.

Threshkin

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2014, 08:54:22 AM »
This is on my post FIRE bucket list.  I am a big user of our local public library and love the idea of a LFL in our area.  I have never seen one in town or in the neighboring towns.

megaschnauzer

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Re: Little Free Library
« Reply #28 on: December 31, 2014, 09:29:55 AM »
there was a article on npr the other morning about the availability of books in poorer neighborhoods. i think they said that there were typically about 30 books for the whole neighborhood but in more affluent neighborhoods there were over 100 books per house.