We wanted to share a project we added to our Springfield bnb, which we lovingly call the holiday house. We built and set out this mini house that is a neighborhood little free library. If you’ve never seen one of these before, the concept is pretty straightforward. Anyone can walk by and add books or take books from the neighborhood library. That’s it. We have officially registered ours with little free library so you can find it on their map.
Here’s the map to ours on their website.
I stocked our neighborhood library with books I’d already read and a few childhood favorites just before our city began sheltering in place. The public libraries were already closing temporarily, so it seemed like a good time to go ahead and have this available to the neighborhood where our holiday house is located. As I was filling the library with what I had, a middle-aged man across the street (who was out on a walk) asked me if I was taking or leaving. I told him I was leaving and he said he’d be back by later to check it out, which made me smile.
Here is how we created our neighborhood free little library:
-three 2′ x 4′ x 3/4″ plywood
-two 2′ x 4′ x 1/4″ plywood
-twelve 3.5″ x 4′ x 3/4″ boards
-ten 2.5″ x 4′ x 1/2″ boards
-eleven 1.5″ x 4′ x 1/2″ boards
-one 18″ x 24″ x .080″ acrylic sheet
-two 1/2″ x 1/2″ x 3′ boards
-two door catches
-two small handles
Start by cutting your bottom, back and side pieces to these dimensions out of your 3/4″ plywood—bottom board 14″ x 3′ and back board 13″ x 3.’ The side boards are 14″ x 22″ with two 35º angles cut at the top on either side to make the pitch of the roof.
Using wood glue and a nail gun, attach the back and side boards to the bottom board. Next, cut your 1/4″ plywood into two 14″ x 40″ pieces and attach them to the top to make the roof as shown above.
Put a piece of Flex Tape along the roof seam. This is to help make it waterproof. You could also use waterproof caulk in the seam instead, but over time it could start to leak, so i used the Flex Tape because it’s waterproof and will last forever basically.
Next, cut your 3.5″ x 4′ x 3/4″ boards to fit on the back and sides with 45º cuts on the ends and attach with glue and the nail gun. Then, to fill in the top angled part of the sides, trace the area on a scrap piece of 3/4″ plywood, one for each side and cut with a circular saw and attach with glue and a nail gun. Next, take a 2.5″ hole saw and drill a hole in each side of the library to make little windows.
Now, get 8 of your 2.5″ x 4′ x 1/2″ boards and cut them to the same length as the roof and attach them. Next, take a piece of the 1/2″ x 1/2″ x 3′ boards and attach it to the top to fill in the gap left from the 2.5″ boards. Next, grab your 1.5″ x 3′ x 1/2″ boards and cut them to 14″ with 45º cuts at the top and attach as shown above.Then, cut some 1″ pieces of 3.5″ x 3/4″ of wood with 45º cuts on the ends and attach to front of the library. Also take a piece of 1/2″ x 1/2″ x 3′ boards and attach along the bottom front as shown above.Next, for the doors! When the doors are closed they will be flush with the outside edge of the front of the library, so they will need to fit inside the front opening, so measure the front opening and cut the doors to those measurements. Take your 1.5″ x 3′ x 1/2″ boards and cut 8 pieces per door with 45º cuts on each end. Then take your acrylic sheet and cut it to fit in between the pieces of 1.5″ x 3′ x 1/2″ boards. Attach the acrylic sheet in between the pieces of wood using glue and screws as shown above, making sure to pre-drill your holes as to not crack the acrylic. Repeat the process for the other door.
Next, paint everything your desired color—we chose white with a black roof! Cut two small pieces of the acrylic sheet and attach them to the inside where the circle windows are. Attach the doors with the hinges and add a center piece of 1.5″ x 3′ x 1/2″ wood in between the doors, and attach your door catches. Also, if you want to add the detail on the front of the doors like ours, simply grab some small scrap pieces of the 1/4″ plywood you should have left over from the roof and trace any design you want with a pencil and cut out with a jigsaw and attach with glue and a nail gun. Add your desired handles and the DIY library house is done.
Then, this little house made its way to Missouri, where we installed it in place.
We wanted the library to be secure, but we also didn’t want to make it a permanent feature to the yard (in case we sell the house one day and the new owner doesn’t want this keep this where it is). We also wanted it to be located on our property but be easy for people out on walks to access without needing to go into our yard or get too close to the house, just for guest/tenant privacy.
I had this old cement planter in my backyard that I wasn’t using; it had actually been left by the previous owner of my house. So, Ethan filled that with cement and a mailbox stand. We attached the little house to this and painted the whole thing black so it blends in, and also can hold up to getting a little outdoor dirt on it.
We positioned the little free library in our yard on the edge of a mulch bed we already had. I liked the look of this and I wanted to make sure it was easy for our lawn care guy to work around when he mows. It’s also far enough away that if it was knocked over (which would be difficult, as it’s very heavy) it won’t end up in the driveway, potentially damaging a vehicle. Below, you can see how far away from the public sidewalk it is. We have a slight slope that leads down the sidewalk, so we had to work around that too. But I think this ended up looking nice, is secure, and easy to access for neighbors.
As I finish books, I now have a place to take them, which I’m really excited about! I hope the neighborhood enjoys it. Thanks for letting us share! xo. Emma & Elsie