The Little Free Library

Libraries are great… all that knowledge compiled in one place and available for free. But if all you want is a good book to read, a big library may be inconvenient. Maybe you live in a rural area and there’s no good one nearby. Or maybe you always forget to return your stuff on time and you don’t want to incur those pesky overdue fees. Then you should be the first in your neighborhood to build a Little Free Library.

A little free library. (Creative Commons)

A little free library. (Creative Commons)

Just put a weatherproof box at the roadside (maybe next to your mailbox) with room for a few books, and you have a shared library for yourself and anyone who passes by. The rules are simple: take a book, return a book. Your box can be simple or elaborate; a lot of people use them as outlets for creativity. (Just browse the gallery to see what I’m talking about.) That’s exactly what Abby had in mind when she tasked me to design and build a Little Free Library for the new house.

For months I’ve stockpiled scrap lumber and other pieces from our main project. For form I envision a miniature “sugar shack” in harmony with the myriad maple sugaring operations around here. Design is still in progress: working out materials and measurements, reviewing my ideas with Abby. This week I made some physical progress at last, as I cut and assembled the exterior framing. My stud walls, top plates, and ridge beam were pretty simple square-cut 2x4s and 2x6s. (I’m totally overbuilding for a structure that will measure 15×18×20 inches, but it’s easier than ripping our scraps into skinny pieces.) The eight rafters have two 45-degree ends and a bird’s mouth, so I traced the cuts from a prototype patty, then cut them out with a chop saw and jigsaw.

It’s fun to play general contractor on such a miniscule project. And working alone, it’s also a good way to review my carpentry skills. The nearest existing Little Free Library is ten miles away in Huntington, so Abby’s excited to bring the network here!

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