Saturday, April 12, 2014

Little Free Library

In honor of Drop Everything and Read, whose programs have been held nationwide on April 12th celebrating Beverly Cleary’s birthday ever since she first wrote about D.E.A.R. in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (pages 40-41), I am sharing a post about my recent efforts to design and install a Little Free Library.   

Founded in Hudson, Wisconsin, Little Free Library promotes literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.  The project builds a sense of community as neighbors share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.

            Five Easy  Suggested Steps to a Little Free Library in Your Neighborhood      

1. Identify a location and steward. 
2. Decide if you want to:
    -  Order a complete Little Library or Kit form
    -  Build it Yourself.  Make it official!
    -  “Endow" for someone else (tax deductible!). 
         Support Books for All in Africa, India or your community, 
         Little Free Libraries for Small Towns or other initiatives.
     -   Honor someone or have a Memorial Library.
3. Register or  
    Use the Contact Us form on the website if you will be sponsoring or endowing a Library
     and have questions. 
     If you are building a Library, register to receive your official charter sign and Steward's packet.
4. Build Support
    Find sponsors to donate books and contact the local media to get press coverage. 
    (Check out the Community-wide Project Guide for more detailed instructions.)
    Tell your neighbors and friends. 
5. Send your photos and information to the website and get on the worldwide map!

Keep your Little Library full of books. Protect it. Enjoy it. Feel great! 
P.S. Always support your public and school libraries

For more information check out the website at:

The first Little Free Library I enountered was at Crone's Cottage B & B in San Diego this past summer, a lovely cottage with cobblestone mirroring her Craftsman B & B, designed by her son.

After searching various local stores and browsing online, I started to consider this Solid Wood Storage Planter Box from Plow & Hearth that was reasonably priced on sale.  With dimensions of 21"L x 20"W x 23"H the dimensions seemed adequate to hold a reasonable number of miscellaneous sized books.  Once free shipping was offered, I placed my order.

Solid Wood Planter Storage Box

And here is what arrived several days later ready to be painted and assembled.

Some Little Free Libraries to provide inspiration to get me going to design our Little Free Library:

Green roofs on little free libraries:

The owner  of this house added other features
including a “poop bag” dispenser for dog walkers and
 a box at the base to leave extra produce from the garden.

It looks like nasturtium flowers planted on the green roof
will soon add even more color to this library

Long lasting cedar or any rot resistant wood such as white pine, redwood, etc. or even rot resistant plastic lumber is recommended for consturction of Little Free Libraries.  With the addition of a border, to the roof, a shallow planter allows planting of a "green roof".  A removable planter tray that can be easily lifted off the base, allows the plants to be moved into an unheated garage or other protected location when the temperatures drop below freezing.  If the wood used is not rot resistant then add a waterproof membrane, roof flashing or piece of a pond liner to prevent the roof from rotting.  To help hold moist potting mix in place, add a thick layer of water-soaked sphagnum moss which can retain moisture up to 10 times its weight. To help secure the soil, moss and plants in place, mesh or chicken wire can be pulled tightly and stapled to the frame of the planter tray. Trim off the excess wire, and tuck more moss around the edges or anywhere that the wire is still visible. Cut out spaces to plant a selection of recommended hardy succulents such as: Orange Stonecrop, Variegated Stonecrop, Graveyard Moss, Blue Carpet Sedum (Spanish Stonecrop), Blue Spruce, Fuldagut, Rosularia, Dragon's Blood, Angelina, Miniature Stonecrop, John Creech, Coral Carpet, Weihenstephaner Gold, Sea Urchin, and Tricolor.
Very little watering is necessary after roots become established.  If you notice that the roof appears dried out or if there is no rainfall for an extended period of time, then water the roof until the moss appears moist. When the sedum appears overgrown or stressed, trim the excess.  You can replant the starts back into the roof or another area.  Many of the varieties of sedums will die back for a period of time after they bloom.  After a few weeks, new growth will appear.

Libraries decorated to complement existing home & landscaping:

Painting the library the same gorgeous
shade of teal as the house helps it
blend into the yard
Book spine inspiration for sides of LFL:

Book spine planter
-thinking about painting book spines on sides of LFL
 with plants above in green roof planting box
Painted picket fence decor inspiration for sides of LFL:
(Advice for choosing syle and color of picket fence for your yard: A low-pitched ranch-style roof may suggest a squared or blunt point; A steeper roof will look good next to a more elongated style picket. Consider how the fence color will match or complement the facade or another visible architectural element, such as a backyard fence.)

  "Books are a uniquely portable magic."
~Stephen King

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