Thirty Days in the Garden: A Second Little Free Library

Several years ago I spotted a book box in a nearby neighborhood and I fell in love with the idea. I came home and told Mike. It took several months to bring the idea to fruition, but by January the following year, we had a Little Free Library of our own. It sits at the curb near the garden and attracts visitors throughout the day.

Little Free Library

Being a part of the Little Free Library movement has been a joyous experience. I’m friends with the owner of the library that inspired me, and I’ve met other LFL stewards along the way.

My friend Nick built the first library from scratch using reclaimed and recycled material. He did an amazing job. He even thought to add light by connecting it to a landscape light below.

Lighting wired to the landscape light

After several years in the sun, the library needed a facelift. My friend and artist Donna Pierre worked her craft. Donna has amazing ideas and the skills to see those ideas to fruition.

Donna’s beautiful art and craft

When I sit in my home office or work in the kitchen, I see visitors throughout the day. The Little Free Library attracts people of all ages.

Last year when the pandemic hit, the library’s use skyrocketed. Children were out of school looking for something to do. Teachers stopped by, with one explaining that she had been forced to leave her classroom on short notice without any teaching materials. Some stewards closed their library for fear of spreading COVID. I left mine in place, assuming that books could be wiped down if necessary. In those days people were wiping down groceries.

I had several children’s books stored in my garage, so I took a large plastic bin, turned it on its side, and filled it with my stash. I placed the box along the low wall leading up to our deck. It’s the perfect height for small readers.

Temporary book bin, summer 2020
2020 Debut: Children’s Little Free Library

As the weather started cooling down, I knew the plastic bin would need modifying or replacing. Right on cue, the bin cracked, brittle from the overhead sun. It had to go.

The only thing better than one Little Free Library is a second one. I ordered the largest pre-made box available through LittleFreeLibrary.org and asked my friend Donna if she could work her magic once again.

Little Free Library viewed from beneath the Wisteria

This allowed us to support the LFL non-profit while providing work to a local artist. I stocked the original library with children’s books on one side and adult fare on the other. The second Little Free Library is exclusively children’s books.

I read voraciously growing up. Libraries in my youth were a refuge and a treat. I thought I would grow up to be a librarian. It’s been a circuitous route, but in my way I’m living that librarian dream. What a thrill!

Art by Donna Pierre, 2020

33 thoughts on “Thirty Days in the Garden: A Second Little Free Library

  1. Amazing! I love these also and always stop to look. Yours is one of the most unique ones that Iโ€™ve seen. So happy to know the history!

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  2. Hasn’t Donna done an amazing job? I want to sit and look in the windows and open the doors! Your little readers must be entranced. Like Laurie, I too am moved by the generosity of all involved.

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    • Anne, you and Donna would get along swimmingly. It was music to my ears to hear children discovering the new box and telling each other. My next door neighbor and friend has a day care in her home, so I’ve gotten to know some of the older children when they visit. I’ve always loved reading to children, first my friends kids, and then my own. It was a sad day in this house when they would no longer let me read to them.

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    • I’m happy to hear. I see them everywhere now. I’m sure many have popped up this past year as well. Two years ago a neighbor stopped by and asked for info on building one. He planned to surprise his wife with her own library. Isn’t that sweet?

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  3. Your little libraries look so delightful. We have an old red telephone box in our village and, when I can nab one of the denizens of the community, I’m going to ask about turning it into a free library as I’ve seen some villages already do. Unfortunately, I had such a massive clearout before we moved here from France that the books I now have are, for the most part, ones I want to keep so I’ll either have to be strict with myself and let go of some more or hope that other people have a stash they don’t mind parting with.

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    • Lynn, that’s a wonderful idea. I’ve seen several of those boxes turned into libraries. It makes good sense, since they’re already structurally sound. When I first opened the library, I had a little ceremony for the neighbors, and I asked everyone to bring books. It was a good start. People will now occassioanly drop off a box of books, often children’s books that they’ve outgrown, but novels and magazines, too. I see people pull up to the curb and add books, and everyone has been respectful about content (no bodice rippers next to Dr. Seuss books), so all in all, it’s been amazing.

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    • Thank you, Amy. The second one has only been in place since October, 2020. We installed the original LFL when my oldest son was still in high school and he graduated college two years ago. Time flies.

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  4. Absolutely enchanting, Alys! Everywhere I roam, I notice Little Free Libraries. Yours are definitely my favorites! I just adore the idea of a special childrenโ€™s library. ๐Ÿ’• Heartfelt thanks for ALL that you are doing to raise young readers, my friend! Your extra touches like handmade bookmarks and cardmaking kits are truly lovely. I’ve been soaking up so much inspiration from your Little Free Library, Alys, and look forward to opening a LFL of my own one day! I’m so happy that your dream of becoming a librarian came true, dear heart!๐Ÿ’—

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    • Dawn, you are always a breath of fresh air. Thank you! I am so excited to hear that you’ll be opening your own LFL. If you aren’t already subscribing to the newsletter, please take a look at the URL in my post. It’s full of information and inspiration and they always feature a library. When we launched our LFL there were 30,000 libraries worldwide. There are now over 100,000 registered in over 100 countries. I get really excited about the libraries in developing countries. They are revered!

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  5. Wowza! How cute is that ๐Ÿ˜€ You’re the star of your neighbourhood ! Donna is super talented for sure, right down to tassels on the window blinds. Such a pretty view from the Wisteria too. There are a number of them in the neighbourhood. I also love how unique each are. xo K

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    • Donna is amazing. She started out as a miniature artist, but her business is largely murals and faux finishes along with design. I love these miniature vignettes and of course the cat in the window tops the list of favorites.

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  6. I love the idea of a second one just for children! It’s just adorable and cute like the original. I wish I hadn’t given all my children’s books to the friends of the library years ago now. There are almost no small children on my street though. It has to be fun to watch who stops by to collect a book.

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  7. What wonderful libraries and beautiful artwork!! I think that I’m going to lean on a friend to make one for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course, it won’t be the work of art that yours is, but still there will be books!

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  8. Such a lovely, uplifting post. Your libraries are both amazing and itโ€™s nice to read that they are so well patronised. I also admired the wisteria. Itโ€™s so perfect I wondered for a moment if it was real!

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