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building libraries

I keep making little free libraries and they keep getting better. I can't wait until one is up for real and I can put up photos. I've learned more about how more types of hinges work, how to puzzle together a door frame, sizes of clear acrylic, the best place in town for 1/4" plywood (menards) and the best place in town for primer (habitat restore).

I had some people on our facebook page offer help and I posted about some steps volunteers could do, but coordinating is a project in and of itself.

Several cities have had big coordinated projects to deploy little free libraries en masse around the city - that's not what we've got going on. Six libraries have passed through my garage this year now. Three were built by a volunteer day at the makerspace, all three are the same except the paint jobs, they're too big so a lot of houses don't want them to be honest - but I'm slowly at least getting them claimed, someone's supposed to come out and get one for a school this week. Then there's the three I've made. One is just sitting and waiting, it just got put together. The other two are at people's houses getting paint and waiting for concrete to set in the holes, so, REALLY close to being out, we just dug the holes this week.

Back to big projects - they all have one thing in common: the libraries are stamped out of a very well-defined pattern and they're all the same. When it comes to getting 40 volunteers to do something, there's not much time to art, right? People can paint creatively sometimes, but the shape and wood just has to get nailed together, and that's where I get lost because my favorite part of libraries is thinking up new shapes.

I've made house-shaped ones with scalloped roofs. I made a round one that looks like a hobbit hole. There's one with a pointy curved top like a fairy tale house.

I use the laser cutter at the makerspace to make the door first, I cut out the acrylic window and three frame-shaped pieces to sandwich a door frame together. Then I laser cut the back. Then I use the back as a pattern to cut 2x4s like a frame so I have something to screw into. It all starts with a vector design in inkscape though. That's what I like sitting and doing - just making lines.

If we had some big project, where would my designs go? I'd lose my favorite part.

Habitat for Humanity gives 20 high schoolers 6 hours of community service just by telling them here, brush paint this house, here's the paint brushes and the paint. They don't have to think much. It's great! I've done it, I really do think it's great. But you can't make art like that right?

Today we went out to someone's house, she'd painted the library I gave her and that's nice for me, I'm finding that most people are willing to paint their own. My inspiration ends when the wood is screwed together. We set the post and got the door hinges in and window caulked, we got to work in the shade, marc said it was really nice. It was. No masses of volunteers. No matching t-shirts or photo ops. Are we doing the absolute BEST thing for a community in need? Probably not. What a random project. Maybe I am selfish, concerned more about feeding my creative spirit. But that's worth something too, right? There are worse things I could be spending time on.


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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 6th, 2016 04:45 am (UTC)
There was a little free library in a children's park we found 1/2 way through our trip across America. It saved me! I swapped out 8 of Alice's books for new books just when I had totally exhausted the "new" things I could pull out.
Jun. 6th, 2016 11:10 am (UTC)
I think it's wonderful what you're doing. But we need more pictures of your creations. :-)
Jun. 6th, 2016 12:26 pm (UTC)
I think it's worthy. I was thinking yesterday how much my life was opened up by the many books my parents had around the house, and how many kids won't have that if their parents only use Nooks and Kindles... books are powerful. Also beauty and community are powerful. And the little library is all those things.
Jun. 6th, 2016 12:31 pm (UTC)
So true that! I feel that way about newspapers; think of all the random discovery that happens from glancing at what you did not intend to read. And I, too think about all the books I read from my parents' shelves - some very inappropriately, too - but the way I constructed a view of the world from them.
Jun. 6th, 2016 12:30 pm (UTC)
Do you know what our Reverend Linda says? She quotes Howard Thurman:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

I would add this: everything you do has an overt and a covert message. Overt message: "Take a free book!" or, "I have made an object for giving you a book and enabling you to give a book!" But think of the rich covert messages as well: "It's good to engage voluntarily in our community!" "People here have extra capacity to share!" "The world wants to give you something." Or even, "Books are so great that we're making a special house to share them with you."

So go forth and come alive!
Jun. 8th, 2016 09:58 am (UTC)
Hear hear!
Jun. 6th, 2016 03:55 pm (UTC)
I love that project. I would love to see a picture of one. I know I have said that before but I think it's an awesome idea!

Also, I think you are doing plenty. You're doing a lot more than most people. Nothing wrong with feeding your creativity too. :-)
Jun. 7th, 2016 03:01 pm (UTC)
I've had a Little Free Library in front of my house for several years now, and I love it. I'm impressed that you've built so many yourself. A friend built mine for me.

Have you tried designing one with a hidden compartment for a geocache? I know of several like that, and think it's a cool idea.

And you should be proud of yourself. Yes, there are other important needs (though I'd say literacy and community are important too, and you're doing your part there) but if we all felt we had to rank the problems of the world and work only on the most pressing ones, not a lot would get done.

Let us know when one of your LFLs is up and running. I visit them on my travels around the country, accompanied by my Jane Austen Action Figure. We leave Jane Austen books in them and blog about it. Would love to see one of yours!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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