Creating A Little Free Library For My Community

Throughout the years I've posted so many, many, many, many times about the bus stop book stop, the little free library that I go to get books and return books I no longer want. But for years I've been traveling, first by bus, and now by car, to a place that is out of my way, but it has a bunch of books (especially in English) and it is a great place to exchange my books. But because it was so out of my way I usually waited until I had a really large stack that was taking up room in my bedroom, and then come home with another stack. This was a pain. But free books, yay!

For so long, I've wished for there to be a little free library in my town, but didn't know how to go about starting one nor did I have the funds to start one on my own. When a local English speaker joined the town government, I asked her if we could arrange one of these and she said we could, but nothing happened, and by now she no longer works there.

Time passed and I really wanted one already. Recently I reached out to someone who is one of the people who runs communal things in the local government and asked her about starting a little free library, and she told me that she didn't think it was appropriate for me to put a little library in the local bus stop at the moment, but instead I should do one near my house, and if that takes off, we can talk about making an official one in a bus stop or whatever.

I thought a lot about how to make one that would be weather friendly. It doesn't rain here in the summer but it does in the winter. I looked up different ideas but didn't get far because most of them weren't exactly the type of thing I was looking for. The local ones aren't closed to the elements but somehow they stay ok, but in most likelihood, it is because they positioned them in a way that is away from the direction that rain generally blows in.

My girls wanted to move around the furniture in their bedroom to make it in a layout that they preferred, but when they were moving it, the bookshelf that had been in their room for years, that I think we originally either got for free from someone or dumpster dove... completely fell apart. The bottom of the bookshelf completely detached and the back detached and because if that, it could no longer stand up. It was not a functional bookshelf anymore. Period. It needed replacement pronto. 

I went to Ikea and bought a new bookshelf for the girls' bedroom and decided that now was the perfect time to create our own little free library- I'd fix the completely broken and unusable bookshelf and use that to start it. It didn't need to be perfect, especially since it would be outside. 

I went to the hardware store and bought some reinforced metal brackets of different sizes. Even if I attached the bottom of the bookshelf, I needed something to make sure it would be a rectangle with right angles, because it wanted very much to be just a parallelogram that tilted to the side. So I used larger reinforced L brackets to attach the bottom of the bookshelf, with the reinforced right angles of the brackets ensuring that the bookshelf itself would be with all right angles and completely upright and not leaning to the side. I then used less big but also reinforced L brackets on each of the 4 corners of each shelf in the bookcase, also to keep the shelves strong (one already had broken off and one was wobbly) but also to add even more support to make sure that every part of the bookshelf was all right angles. 

Then I needed to reattach the back of the bookshelf with a bunch of little nails. My daughter wanted to help with that.

It wasn't very physically challenging theoretically to rebuild the bookshelf, but it was a little challenging to figure out how to position the different parts of the bookshelf when I was trying to screw in the brackets when it wasn't currently with right angles, but I got it. I spent maybe a total of 2 hours or less fixing the bookshelf (and that includes the time I needed to let the battery for my drill charge when it ran out of juice when I nearly finished).

Each of the larger brackets cost me $1.40 and the smaller ones cost $0.57 cents each. I used 5 of the larger and 23 of the smaller ones. So that was about $20 for all the brackets and another $5 for all the screws and nails. Not bad.

I bought some waterproofing sealant to put on in the winter. I didn't do it yet because I wanted to set it up already and get it out of my house. But again, it isn't urgent since the summer is almost here. 

I also bought a thick plastic tablecloth and velcro. I will have the tablecloth rolled up at the top of the bookshelf in the winter and unroll it and velcro the corners down to stop it from blowing around in the rainy wind. But it might not be needed because it is in the direction that is away from where the wind blows. I'll put this up once I waterproof it. 

The equipment to waterproof it cost me another $30.

I made a sign on it in English and the local language. It says: 

Little Free Library.
Leave books you no longer want. Take books that look good. No need to return if you like a book.
No religious books or school books. No broken books. Any language welcome.
Under camera surveillance. 
I put the bookshelf at the bottom of my stairs that lead out of my yard, against the retaining wall of my front yard. My upstairs neighbors have a surveillance camera that looks out directly over this area since this is where he parks his motorcycle, so it works to announce the cameras there, because unfortunately we have a vandalism issue with teenagers in my neighborhood, and hopefully this will keep the library in good condition.

I had posted in my local WhatsApp group about this initiative and people were really excited about it (at least in the English speaking community... but honestly those are the books I care more about anyhow) and I have people who already donated some books that I picked up tonight and put on the shelf. I have more local people who told me they'll bring books over. And tomorrow I am heading to the city with my car and I'll be going to pick up more donations for the library. 

So now it isn't full but there is a shelf full of books in a few different genres on a variety of different subjects. 

Update: I updated the original picture to the one I took one day later, after I picked up donations from 2 more people. We now have 2 shelves of books in English, half a shelf of the local language books, and half a shelf of another language commonly spoken in my community. And when I came back to put those on the shelf, I saw people had already been and donated some more books.

I can't wait for this project to take off. I know it'll do great.

Do you have one of these little free libraries in your community? How often do you get from or put books there? If you don't have one, does this seem like a project you'd start?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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