- The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Mahatma Gandhi
Build My Own Mini Library
Use your resources
Because Roepke's Little Library matches her house, her husband was able to use materials that they had left from when the house was built. He sliced wood panes into smaller pieces and painted them with the same yellow shade that the previous homeowners left in the basement. Using those materials from home helped shorten her hardware store shopping list. For his Little Library, Wulk used the same cedar, roofing and stain that's on his home. He found some of the decorative parts of his Little Library, such as the glass window door and an iron ornament with the words, "Speak English yet," in piles of junk that people were tossing. Stetzer, who does a lot of woodworking as a hobby, also used as many scrap materials as he could to create his Little Library. He said loose scraps of wood can easily be put together to create the base, sides and roof.
Watch your budget
The cost of building a Little Library varies depending on how intricate you make it. Reopke said the project was fairly inexpensive. However, Ali said those getting a Little Library should be prepared to spend some money. She had hers built for $75 and bought paint supplies for $80. Even though Stetzer used a lot of scrap wood for the actual house, he ended up spending about $50 on the structure after buying extra plywood, a post and other accessories.
Building a Little Library takes time. Wulk estimated that it took him over 40 hours from start to finish, and he would sometimes spend six to seven hours a day working on it. "I'd go check on him to make sure he was still alive," Ardith Wulk said, laughing. Roepke stressed that the whole project is a lot of trial and error, especially based on how much woodworking expertise one has. In regards to her husband's experience, "He doesn't really know what he's doing," she said, laughing. Still, she was pleased with how well he was able to craft it with very little woodworking background. The creative process can be time consuming as well. Ali said it took her and her sons 10 to 14 days to come up with the concept, buy the materials and initiate the design. "Be patient, because the creative portion is the most important part of it," Ali said.
Add personal touches
For Allen, being creative means adding new details to his Little Library as inspiration strikes. For instance, he added a thumbtack to represent a doorbell on the side of the door frame.. Little Libraries can be a canvas for artwork as well. Stetzer's daughter painted an elaborate field of tall trees and grass. Underneath the trees are open books scattered along the lawn.
Wulk said if he had young children, he'd get them involved in making a Little Library of their own. "This is a good father-son, father-daughter project," he said. "Get them doing things with their hands rather than their computers." Stetzer suggests having neighbors work on the project together. That way, those with varied skills can share ideas and socialize.
Light it up
Since Little Libraries are open all day and night, some visitors find themselves digging through titles and flipping through pages in the dark. For those night time passers-by, it's courteous to include some type of lighting system in the library. At Wulk's library, an LED light stays on until a timer turns it off at 2 a.m. Stetzer went the environmentally friendly route and purchased a solar-powered light at Harbor Freight Tools. A solar panel about the size of one's hand sits on the left side of the roof and collects energy from the sun all day. With a motion sensor, the light turns on every time the door is opened.
- Protect it
Because Little Libraries are usually placed in front yards, it's likely for Little Libraries to get beaten up by visitors, intentionally or unintentionally. Wulk said he hasn't had any problems with vandalism on his Little Library. However, he keeps a security camera trained on his front lawn. He can keep an eye on his front yard in real time or search back through two months of recordings. Sometimes nature causes problems that can't be prevented, especially rain showers. Roepke has a family member who didn't put a proper roof on his library, and the books were ruined. "You have to have a roof that covers rainwater so that the books don't get wet," she said. That involves making sure that the edges of the roof jut out beyond the structure so water can run off onto the ground. Roepke said she's also had some problems with bugs getting into the Little Library and making it their home. One solution involves using anti-insect powder.