What is a Little Free Library? It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too! — Little Free Library
My wife is a voracious reader. She reads two to three books a week. She loves them. She’ll even power through a not-so-good one just to say she read it.
We are fortunate enough to live in a community where the Little Free Library has kind of taken off. It seems I see one every two to three blocks around here. Not a week goes by that my wife (usually with our daughter in tow) doesn’t stop by one of the Little Free Libraries around our neighborhood to trade some books. My wife even keeps a bag of no-longer-needed books in her car for the odd random stop that might happen as she is driving around.
So, for a while now I have been planning on building one as a present for her. As our 8 year wedding anniversary was approaching I knew it would be the perfect gift. Also, I set a personal goal of giving more handmade presents this year. The only problem was that I’m not very "handy". Woodworking stuff and DIY projects don’t come naturally to me. I’m also not the sort of guy who just dives into something I have no idea how to do and figures it out along the way. Especially not for anything this important.
I could have purchased one from the Little Free Library website but they seemed a bit expensive and I wanted to give her something I made with my own hands. I mentioned my plans to my friend Jason late last week, along with my complete lack of confidence in my own skills to do so, and he gladly offered his help.
There are plenty of plans for building your own Little Free Library out there. We live in an 1886 Victorian home and I chose a plan that could be adapted to match similar architectural lines (steeply pitched roof, double doors, plank siding, etc.).
We started with building the basic structure from 3/4 inch plywood. This formed a good foundation to add details to.
Next, the molding was added using some 2 inch cedar.
After that, the siding was cut to fit and installed. This is the same 1886 cedar siding that is on our house — reclaimed.
Cedar shakes were cut and added to the roof.
Finally, the doors were constructed from cedar (with plexiglass windows) and attached with self-closing hinges.
All told, it took a couple of solid work days to complete, but that is largely due to the customization and design choices put into it. A more simple plan would likely take even someone of my lesser skills less than a day. Now that I’ve been through the process, I’m pretty confident that I could and will likely do another one on my own.
Most importantly to me, my wife absolutely loved it! Not only because she has long wanted one of her own but also because she knew how much of a stretch it was for me to build it.
Little Free Libraries are a wonderful thing that brings the gift of reading to communities all around the world. Find one near you and go grab a free book (and leave one too). But, also, consider building one of your own — especially if there is not yet one in your area.