Six years ago I launched my first Little Free Library. I was one of the first free libraries in town. Since then, these libraries have been sprouting up all over the place. There must be at least a dozen, maybe fifteen, just in Delmar. It’s hard to keep track of all the competition.
So I’ve upped my game and built a new version. My original library had been showing signs of fatigue. One of the trim pieces was rotting. The door—my third one, a repurposed picture frame—was no longer fitting properly. The second shelf was too small.
I did what I always do and scavenged materials stored in my garage and shed: trim and shelves from our old fireplace mantel, shingles leftover from a roofing project. I roamed the neighborhood until I found a sheet of plywood someone had put out at the curb. I picked up an old window at a salvage shop to serve as a sturdy door. I used paint I had on hand.
Version 2 is bigger and sturdier than Version 1. I decided on the shed-style design because it was straightforward enough for me to build and provided space for two taller shelves.
As the curator, I try to keep a variety of quality books stocked in the library: popular and literary fiction, contemporary non-fiction, and books for beginning and young readers. It’s not always easy. The motto of the Little Free Library organization is “Take a Book – Return a Book.” It says so right on my library’s plaque.
Still, some people misread that simple statement. They interpret it as “Help Yourself to All the Books” or “Please Dump All Your Unwanted Books Here.”
I’ve had people kind enough to leave their 20-year old school textbooks, or the circa 1980GE microwave cookbook, or an instruction manual for assembling an Ikea table, or their entire collection of bodice rippers.
I guess every job has its challenges, even curating free libraries. But for the most part, I think you’ll find something interesting to read. I’ve nabbed a few books out of the library myself when I discover someone has left a novel I’ve always wanted to read or a classic I want on my own bookshelves.
If you’re local, come on by. Take a book, return a book. Have a wonderful reading experience.
Acknowledgments: Thanks to Jim for his wise counsel on construction matters, some of which I listened to, and for use of his table saw. Thanks to Harriet for the original idea of having a Little Free Library.