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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Better Than...the Bookmobile

Our finished little free library. I love my daughter's bookshelf artwork.
A couple of years ago I was so enchanted when I read about the "birdhouse library" or "little free library" movement. These are small structures people put outside their house (or work or even a park) and fill with any kind of books. The boxes can be fancy or utilitarian, hand-crafted or pre-made.

The idea is to take a book, read it, and then return it or other book(s). But even if they aren't returned, hopefully other readers will donate books. Then you get a nice book exchange going in your neighborhood.

Some awesome Boy Scouts made several little libraries for their Eagle project. When I read about it in the paper, I immediately called to get one. Over the weekend my very sweet husband (and kids) helped me repaint our box, clear a small jungle in the shrub bed, set the box in post mix, put in a bench, and plant flowers. Whew! I think it turned out so nice, though.

When I put in the books on Sunday (a few for grownups and young adults, mostly picture/chapter books), four little neighbor kids ran over and grabbed a book and sat on the bench to read. I wanted to jump up and down! Little readers on my bench!

After church, my family spent most of Sunday near the library. It was a beautiful day and so relaxing to rest and read in the shade under the flowering trees. Curiosity drew several neighbors to stop and chat. I was reaping the rewards already! Another unexpected benefit over the weekend was that preparing the books and the library was fun to do with the family, not just my pet project.

This picture was not posed in any way whatsoever!
Monday came, and since my house is on the walking route to the elementary school, kids stopped to check it out. A free book? Really? Oh, yes! I hope they stay excited to look for a little surprise that is always waiting on the walk to or from school.

As the books started moving off the shelves, I replenished it out of a box of donated books. When I run out, I will get more from thrift store, garage sales, and library/teacher/friend castoffs. (Only the most fabulous books will make it into MY library, though. 'Cause I'm the librarian, so what I say goes!)

Seriously. Even the cat joined us as we read.
One last thing I did was to register as a Library Steward (love that term) at It isn't necessary to register a birdhouse library, but this step makes mine part of a global community, listed on their map, with an official charter sign for the library and other benefits. It cost a reasonable $35.

I truly think this little library project is one of the best things I've ever done. I love encouraging others to read. I love relaxing in the shade and talking with neighbors. I love having a box of free gifts in my front yard. I'm putting some goodness into the world!

The best review at the "grand opening" was by a girl about nine years old. As she took a book and walked away, she yelled at me on my porch, "I freaking love your little library!" I think that says it all. I freaking love it too.

The best little reading nook in the world.


  1. I have books you can use! When you run out, let me know.

  2. Fabulous, thank you! There seems to be a run on picture books and early readers right now!

  3. I have loved this idea, but YOU put it into practice. Way to go, Jen.

    1. Thanks, Sundy. When I found the boxes the Eagle Scouts had already made, it suddenly seemed doable. That helped a lot!

  4. I freakin love your blog! Can't wait to see the library.

  5. Love the books painted on the front of your LFL. I love seeing these pop up in neighborhoods. We have two in mine, about three blocks apart. One is always full, while the other perpetually almost empty. I confess to occasionally grabbing several out of the fuller one to place in the one at the park. I can take an armload of books up to that one and every one will be gone in days. I only wish I had more kids books to donate, especially with it being at a park.

    1. The box came painted BRIGHT blue! I repainted it red with leftover paint from my house so it matches better, and also my HOA wanted it to be not quite so fluorescent! I put my 13-y-o in charge of painting the front. She came up with the image of the books. It's hard to paint on that chipboard wood but she made it look so cute. This has been a really rewarding project for me. Every time I see someone sit on the bench I'm just so tickled.
      There are so many great designs for LFLs. I've seen another one in town that was painted in a Dr. Seuss theme. It's so charming!
      I actually think it's great that you are circulating the books. While it's too bad the kids aren't returning anything, at least they are reading and enjoying the LFL. Maybe it would help to tape a note to the door telling them that they need to return the book they read or donate a different one for others to enjoy.

  6. Sangat menginspirasi untuk saya. Thanks, Jennifer. Salam kenal dari Indonesia.