Our Little Free Library Becomes a Work of Art

Feast your eyes on our redesigned Little Free Library.

Thanks to the extraordinary talents of artist Donna Pierre, Our Little Free Library is now a work of art.

My friend Nick Timmerman built our library in January, 2014. He used reclaimed materials, then added a small light connected to our low voltage landscape lighting. What a gem!

Although the box remains structurally sound, it took a bit of a beating with the sun shining down on it day after day. This year’s rains exposed a small leak, and with that I knew it needed a bit of TLC.

Somehow, that “TLC” morphed into a magical, whimsical, fantastical library. (Click on individual photos for a closer look)

Our Little Free Library or LFL has been a joy from the start.Β  I love the whole concept of a book exchanges on sidewalks, country roads, inside coffee houses and in neighborhood parks. As of November 2016,

there are over 50,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 countries around the world. – source LittleFreeLibrary.org

How’s that for exciting?Β  The idea of linking people with books and communities with tiny libraries is both simple and profound. It’s such an honor to be a part of it.

In the early days of the library, I went searching for books. I asked friends and neighbors and occasionally searched our local thrift stores when children’s books were in short supply.

Then the magic happened.

  • Bloggers from around the world sent special books for the Little Free Library debut. Books arrived from Anne in Australia, Kelly in Canada and Julia from the state of Virginia. Pauline and Ann who are also artists, sent me a supply of bookmarks.
  • My friend Barbara bought three large bins of children’s books at a garage sale and donated them to our library.
  • When our neighbor Bernice moved house, she called and offered me several boxes of children’s books for a variety of ages.
  • A neighbor a few blocks over regularly stops by and tidies the library. She leaves bags of books on my doorstep from Friends of the Library sales.
  • My friend Kristi sent several books via Amazon in honor of our friendship and in memory of her Aunt Vicki.
  • And twice in recent months, a neighbor I’ve never met pulled up to the curb and offered me several bags of children books.
  • Just last week I received a box of books from Marlene at In Search of it All.

It’s also fun watching the books come and go organically. The Little Free Library motto is take a book, give a book and it works.

Here’s another gallery of photos showing Donna at work.

A big thank you to Donna for sharing her talents.Β  You can see more of her work here and here.

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46 thoughts on “Our Little Free Library Becomes a Work of Art

    • Sara, I feel the same way. It’s beautiful from every angle. I’m noticing people stopping to look at all the details. Donna is such a talent. It’s been fun having the opportunity to blend my love of art, reading and community all in one place.

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    • She is, Pauline. It’s been wonderful having a chance to set up our own LFL at the curb and to see it work so well. It’s enjoyed by all ages. I’ll bet you would have fun painting a library in your community. Are you seeing these boxes pop up in your neighborhood?

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  1. WOW!! How great is that. AND she did it all standing up. That is amazing. I love that the birdies have a LFL too. I have to come and see it for myself. One day. It’s on the list. Also on the list is send Alys photos of my yard. We have got it coming along very nicely this summer. Julia gave me a lot of periwinkle which I am in hopes will do well and take over a rather larger spot under some trees I have been clearing just lately. We’ll see. I love all you have going on there in CA. Hope you have cooled off a bit. Today was fantastic here in VA. Take care of you.

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    • Amy! You are always so full of good cheer. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that she was on her feet for so much of the time. She’s incredibly fit and it surely makes a difference. She works on large wall murals, ceilings!!! and other surfaces like desks and cabinets.

      I’m looking forward to seeing photos of your garden. I hope the periwinkle takes off as hoped. It sounds beautiful. I look forward to showing you the library in person one day. We’re finally back to a seasonal normal of high 70’s low 80’s for the next several days. I finally had the energy to spend big chunks of time in the garden, pruning, pulling out spent annuals, sweeping, raking and all the other tasks that were on hold during the week-long heat wave. It felt good.

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  2. I do wish it wasn’t so expensive to send stuff by mail here, or I’d send books to both you and Anne in Melbourne for both the LFLs. Your mini-reno is seriously beautiful and an ornament to your front yard as well as an important local resource πŸ™‚

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    • Kate, I very much appreciate the thought. Thank you! I’m just tickled with the way this turned out. It’s especially fun to see the younger children interact with the library. Who knew a box of books at the curb could spread so much joy? xo

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  3. I LOVE how it turned out. It so looks like a tree house. And it’s own little birdhouse to boot. I will find more books for you as soon as I get a chance to breathe again. It cost so little to send them book rate! I was surprised..Donna did an outstanding job on this remodel. Now you need another housewarming. πŸ™‚

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    • Marlene, you just planted a seed. I’m going to call it the Little Free Library Tree House from now on. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a real tree house library? I would have LOVED that as a kid. I’m just tickled with all the loving details. There is actually a cat coming too, but we were not sure how best to attach it so that it doesn’t “walk away”. It’s adorable. Thanks again for sending the box of books. You’re the best. xo

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  4. Oh my! I now have LFL envy! πŸ™‚ This truly is a work of art, and so appealing! There are a few LFL in my neighborhood and I so enjoy stopping by and leaving a few books from time to time. I love the idea of linking books across the country. This is very special!!

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    • Thank you, Debra. I’m happy to hear that you’re finding libraries in your neighborhood. They’ve spread like wildfire. Isn’t it fun leaving a book? When I have a particularly large surplus, something that happens on occasion, I add them to some of the other neighborhood libraries. One of my local favorites looks like Tardis from Dr. Who. Isn’t that fun?

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    • Thank you. It’s really nice having it ready for the summer, a time when I remember reading all the time as a girl. We always had a library card, and for a short time lived in a community with a mobile library. I remember thinking that was the coolest think I had ever seen.

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  5. MY GOODNESS. That is, without a doubt, the most beautiful and elaborate LFL I’ve seen yet. Your neighbors are so lucky to have someone as generous as you in their midst, Alys; I expect it has already become an “instant classic” and a landmark in your neighborhood. As for that very last photo: It freaked me out for a split second (“Unhand poor Mouse at once, you ruffian!”) until I realized it was just the old dΓ©cor. I’m sure you heard my sigh of relief all the way from Minnesota. πŸ™‚ xo

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    • Oh my goodness…you poor thing. Donna is also a cat lover, and has been nursing her cat Charlie back to health these past few weeks. She’s not sure what happened, but thinks he was injured in some way outdoors. He’s finally turned a corner, but it was rough going. I suggested she create a cat in Charlie’s image, but she went in a different direction, and this faux cat is equally cute. She’ll be by later in the week to secure him to the library. Maybe I’ll blog a naming party?

      I’m smitten with Donna’s design. I wanted something that tied the library to nature, and a tree seemed like the obvious thing, but all that original creativity is hers. It’s really something. Thanks for all your kind words. Mouse says “thanks for having my back.”

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  6. !! Just WOW !! My good gosh, did you even imagine ? The little birdhouse over your LPL is a very cute touch. There’s even the rope loop on top for hanging it in your whimsical tree. Oh! That tree with all the cut outs in the perfect place too ! All the little details are beyond. Donna is super duper talented. How will you protect it now from the elements like sun and rain? Is Donna self taught ? Passerby’s will want to linger to take in all the wonder. Congratulations hon on your re-imagined LPL, it’s super fun. Where do you store the multitude of books you collect for your library? Can you barely take your eye’s off of it? xoxox K

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    • The tree is my favorite part. It’s such a beautiful combination of whimsy but with the essence of a real tree. I love the bird too. And the little birdhouse.

      Here is Donna’s bio: Painting since childhood, Donna
      went on to receive a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Kendall College and School of Design.
      After graduation, Donna spent the next 15 years working in the San Francisco Bay Area
      building a successful career as a designer and illustrator. Her extensive work in the art
      world and travel throughout Europe and her classical training under European masters such
      as Pierre Finklestein (The author of β€œThe Art of Faux”) culminated in the creation of
      Buena Vista and a full-time commitment to the arts of faux finishing and mural painting.

      She’s really something. As for the library, she’s put multiple coats of weatherproofing glaze on all of the surfaces, and plans to come back every other year for a new coat. She’s done something similar in her yard and she said it still looks good eight years in. As for the extra books, this is the first year that I’ve had so many. I had them in C’s room at first, but before he came home for the summer, I made room in one of the closed cabinets in our garage. I keep a bag of seasonal books (Christmas, Halloween, Easter) and put them out during those times of year. Right now I have books with red, white or blue spines in honor of Independence Day. And yes…I love it!

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  7. That’s going to be a kid magnet! And I think making the library magical will make books and reading seem magical, too–what a gift you and Donna have provided your community!

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  8. This is FABulous! I love the little birdhouse. And the fact the back is just as beautiful as the front. I would send a couple of books but I don’t think you really need any more donations!

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    • Thank you for the lovely thought, Sue. I hope you’ll discover a LFL in your community. They’re popping up everywhere. Donna did an amazing job, not only designing the library, but making all the three-dimensional parts work well together. I hope you are doing well.

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  9. A magical place to discover the magic of reading, dear Alys! Donna’s work is just amazing ~ truly a work of art and a work of ‘heart’. I love to hear how you collect and curate your book collection throughout the year, Alys! Little Free Libraries have been popping up throughout our town in the past year or so. It’s my dream to add a Little Free Library of my own to this wonderful organization one day! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful, heartwarming treasure with us today! β™‘

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  10. Pingback: Little Free Library of Distinction – Gardening Nirvana

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