I’m so excited! For decades, I’ve dreamt of having a little free library on the street in front of my house. I just never had the kind of skilled support I needed to build such a thing. I also never had the time or money, if I’m perfectly honest.
But now I’m married to someone who is supportive of my dreams, and tolerant of my artistic nature, so we started to build. Or, uh, actually, he started to build. I just told him my vision, and did the painting and decorating after all the splinters and smashed fingers were done with. (Thanks, honey.)
Having said that, though, I’m not sure either one of us knew just what we were getting ourselves into. Because, you see, it started off as a simple, waterproof box with a door, on a post. We had those kinds of supplies lying around. It really wouldn’t cost anything. Just a little time and effort. But then I started becoming more and more enthusiastic about the project, and well… away we went.
For starters, wouldn’t it be fun to have a window in the door so people could actually see the books? And the door would need hinges. Oh, and a magnetic latch, so the cars driving by don’t blow the door open and let the weather in. And it would be cute to have a pretty, colorful handle for the door. That shouldn’t cost much, right?
And, you know, the whole point is to encourage people to read. So we really ought to make it colorful and eye-catching. So I should get some colorful paint. Green. Red. Blue. Maybe sparkly blue! Ooh, and glow in the dark paint, too, so it will be noticeable for at least an hour or so after dark. And we’ll need primer, too. And sparkly copper color for the trim.
Trim? Well, yeah, wouldn’t it be cool if it had trim? Maybe a thin strip of wood with decorative carvings on it. Yeah, let’s do that.
Oh! Oh! And look at this quirky little free library design that I found! The roof is slanted, so tall books can be on one end, and short books on the other! And it has a living roof! It has plants on top, so the slanted roof helps with drainage. So yeah, let’s get some metal to line the roof with, so the water won’t leak down into the books. And some weed cloth to line it, and some soil, and some succulents. Perennial succulents. Low maintenance. But flowering, for the bees. We can’t forget the bees.
Of course, what with the books and the plants, the whole structure is going to be really heavy, so we’ll need a bigger post. And we don’t want people standing too close to the street while they look at the books, so we should have it back off the street a bit, and we should put some pavers on the grass, so they are not standing in mud.
And wouldn’t it be fun to have little rubber duckies in the planter, too? Rubber duckie, you’re the one. Or two. Or six.
Oh, and the side walls are kind of blank, so how about we make little murals? Free hand? No. Maybe decoupage. So let’s get some lettering and glue from the craft store. I’ll print out some clip art. Oooh. Maybe I could paint some flowers on one side? I bet someone has some colorful nail polish I could use. (Thanks, Necia!)
And the Pacific Northwest is not known for its nice weather, so we better put a lot of coats of paint and decoupage glue and, what the heck, maybe some polyurethane on top of all that…
And sweety, honey, I’m reading that the books shouldn’t sit directly on the cabinet floor, so do we have some kind of rack that will raise them up a bit in case water gets in? And I need a little compartment to hold my log book so people can leave questions and comments (yeah, I’ll need to buy one of those, too), and a place for pens and gifts like bookmarks and such.
Bookmarks! I should have pretty bookmarks printed with the address of my blog on them. Oh, and lest we forget, books. We need books. And we will probably need more, over time.
So, yeah, this turned out to be a bigger project than we anticipated. Some surfaces got about 15 coats: 3 coats of primer, 3 coats of paint, 8 coats of decoupage glue, and 1 coat of polyurethane. This little free library could survive a nuclear attack. (Let’s hope vandals don’t test that theory.)
When it was finally up, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I was really proud of how it turned out. I already feel more connected to my community. If I encourage one person to read something they wouldn’t already have read, then I feel as though I’ve accomplished all that I’ve set out to do.
Just for giggles, I put a copy of my book in there, so now my book is in 6 libraries that I know of. (I hope you’ll ask your library to carry it, too!) And those blog bookmarks turned out great, so I hope it helps expand this community as well.
This little library was up for less than a day, and it already got a wonderful comment in the log book:
“This is a wonderful idea. It makes me happy to know I live in a good neighborhood that will support such a nice contribution. Thank you for being thoughtful and generous. We appreciate you.”
That brought tears to my eyes. Happy, happy tears.
So now, I’m going to make it a PokeStop, to attract people who use the Pokemon GO app. Also, we plan to put a geocache somewhere around it, to attract other people, too. And we’ll always be on the lookout for appropriate books in good condition. Just sayin’.
A library steward’s work is never done.