Little Free Library of Distinction

I’m so excited!

Our curbside Little Free Library is this week’s LFL Library of Distinction.

From the Little Free Library Newsletter, September 2017

Little Free Library of Distinction

Little Free Library of Distinction, September, 2017

The entry appears in the Little Free Library newsletter under the heading: One Library got a whimsical makeover

Here’s the link.

This is a great opportunity to bring attention to our library, and a wonderful way to celebrate and promote Donna Pierre’s stunning work. Here is how the whole thing came about.

After Donna put the finishing touches on our revamped library,  I sent updated photos via the LFL website. They wrote back letting me know they would update the map within three days.

Our registered Little Free Library is searchable via the world map along with 50,000 other libraries in over 70 countries worldwide. Through the Little Free Library movement, millions of books are exchanged annually. It is a joy to be a part of the movement.

Within a few days of submitting the new photos, I received this email:

Congratulations! Your Library has been selected as a Library of Distinction. Its unique design and the creativity and enthusiasm you have put into it make it an inspiring example for other Little Free Library stewards to follow.
We will share images of your Library and the story behind it in our weekly e-newsletter to Little Free Library fans and on our Libraries of Distinction Pinterest board.
If there are any details on your Library’s design or history that you’d specifically like to share in our e-newsletter, please respond directly to this email with that information; about 3-4 sentences would be perfect.
 
Attached you will find a certificate to commemorate this achievement, please feel free to print it and show it off to all of your friends! Keep up the good work.
Cheers,

The Little Free Library Team

Donna attached this handsome cat to the base of the library. I reworked the white sign by smudging it with green ink. Instead of re-attaching it to the face of the library, Mike installed cup hooks below the box for the sign to hang free. I didn’t want to do anything that would distract from Donna’s design.

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.

–Marcel Proust

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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.  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?  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.  You can see more of her work here and here.

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Our Little Free Library Gets a Makeover

Little Free Library original

Little Free Library, January, 2014

When I spotted a Little Free Library in nearby Campbell in 2013, it was love at first site. The idea of my own Little Free Library held great appeal. It took awhile to bring it all together, but in January of 2014 our curbside Little Free Library or LFL made its debut. We dedicated the library in May that year and it’s seen a steady stream of visitors ever since.

My friend Nick Timmerman built the library using reclaimed materials. It’s held up well, but last year it started to leak. I had to cover the library with  recycled packing material to keep it operational during our wet winter.

Little Free Library March 2017

Little Free Library under cover

Now the library is undergoing a facelift.  I wanted something fun and whimsical, so I reached out to my friend Donna Pierre. Donna is a talented fine artist and a muralist. It’s a treat to see the details unfold. I’m excited to share the finished library soon. Meanwhile, here are a few pics of the process:

Little Free Library Primed for painting

Primed, painted and sealed

Donna Pierre painting the Little Free Library

Donna Pierre: taping off lines for the log cabin detail

Little Free Library Log Cabin Detail

The log cabin effect

Little Free Library Log Cabin Detail

Back of the library

It’s been unseasonably hot these past few days, after a week of unseasonably cold weather. You never know these days which end is up. Once the weather improves, Donna will be back. I’m so excited.

As you can see from the last photo, my sweet pea jungle is wilting from the heat. I knew it was inevitable, but I’ll be sorry to see them go. The Nigella (love-in-a-mist) are filling in some of the vacated spots, and the cornflowers are hanging in there too. The bees love the Nigella and I love the bees so three cheers for synchronicity.

spring flower bouquet

Flowers for Kathee

My sister stops by every Sunday to pick up a small bouquet for her friend, Kathee who is on hospice.  This past weekend I added three miniature yellow roses to the small bouquet. It’s been nice to bring a bit of color to her day.

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The Greening of the Little Free Library

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We’re celebrating by featuring green-covered books, bookmarks and a few small craft kits in our Little Free Library.

…and a pot of gold at the end of the fairy garden rainbow.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig

Shamrocks in the Fairy Garden, Green Books in the Library

St. Patrick’s Day brings out my inner child. We loved wearing green to school when we were kids and apparently I’ve never outgrown the tradition. Green is my favorite color, so finding the right thing to wear is easy-breezy.

I’m also having fun making Leprechaun mischief in the fairy garden. It’s hard to resist.

Fairy garden house under a net

Those mischievous Leprechauns have tossed a net over the fairy house

fairy garden pot of gold

A pot of gold. Is there a rainbow nearby?

fairy garden fairies on St. Patrick's day

Charming fairies enjoy the shade. They were a gift from my friend Kristi.

fairy garden st. patrick's day

Succulents tend to like dry conditions, but they sure look green after the rain.

Since joining a Facebook group for Little Free Library stewards, I’ve found myself reinvigorated. Stewards in the group have wonderful ideas, among them setting up themes for their library.

I stocked the library with red-colored books for Valentine’s Day, and offered pink and red bookmarks and stickers.

valentine's day litttle free library collage

Last week we celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday, which was a huge hit. When I returned from our weekend away, all but one book found its way into a pair of small hands. One of my neighbors stopped by to tell me that his granddaughter was jumping up and down with excitement over one of the Seuss books. That made my day.

LFL Dr. Seuss

Celebrating Dr. Seuss, born March 2nd

If you don’t know about the Little Free Library movement you can read about it on their site. We opened our LFL two years ago. It continues to receive a warm welcome from the community

This week, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and approaching s*p*r*i*n*g, all the books are green, or green themed. books about gardening, fairy gardening, herb gardening…you get the picture. Once again, stickers and green bookmarks to entice small ones to the library. It’s such good fun.

Little Free Library st. Patrick's day

Little Free Library decked out in green

I’ve been a reader my whole life. As girls we loved our trips to the local library. I came home with the maximum books allowed, devoured all of them, then headed back for more. Having a library card felt special. When my boys came along, reading was a big part of our day. Having this LFL at the curb is a great way to build community around reading and a source of daily joy.

What do you know?

The Little Free Library mission is to:

promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.

The original goal: To build 2,510 Little Free Libraries—as many as Andrew Carnegie—and keep going.

As of January 2016, there are over 36,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 countries around the world.

Little Free Library: Take a Book, Return a Book

The Making of The Miniature Little Free Library

mac approved mini little free library

Photo shoot in the fairy garden before mailing the LFL

This is a follow on post to It’s the Little Things (Even Libraries) published last week. You can catch up with part one here.

It took me years to realize that everyone creates differently. I admire designers that can sketch an idea, and then make it come to life. I tend to work in reverse. Ideas rattle around in my head where they’re examined and discarded. These ideas simmer in my brain before a usable plan comes together.

My first fairy garden miniature library started with a small box. I thought I would do the same with this one, but none of the boxes in my stash seemed right. I visited a craft store, put a couple of items in my cart, then put them all back. Eventually I left the store with a small container of blue paint and a receipt for seventy-five cents.

Back home, using a photo of Carrie’s library as a guide, I cut pieces from a thin piece of cardboard. I wanted the library to have a working door, so I cut a small rectangle in the body of the library. I cut a cardboard frame for the door, and backed it with clear packaging from a packet of batteries.

Carries library with miniature

Carrie’s full-sized library on the left, the miniature version on the right

mini little free library construction

Constructing the miniature library

It took three coats of paint to cover the glossy white cardboard, but after two days the color looked even.

If I had it to do over again, I would install the door first, and then assemble the library. It would have been handy to have fairy-sized hands that day. I persevered.

After taping the plastic to the door, I glued a tiny hinge in place. On the library itself, I poked two small holes into the opening, then used tiny brads to hold the hinge in place.

mini little free library door hardware

Door hardware

On the opposite side of the door I attached a “doodad” from my stash, holding that in place with another brad. This allows the door to open and close.

mini little free library open door

Miniature LFL with a working door

Since the opening is small, I made a removable roof so adding books is a breeze.

Carrie’s library sits on a wooden post surrounded by a circle of stones. To replicate the look, I used a cinnamon stick, a small metal lid and a handful of pebbles from my fairy garden stash. I hot-glued the cinnamon stick to the inside of the lid, and then glued rocks into and around it. This gives it weight and stability. I downloaded a copy of Carrie’s library, and photo-copy reduced the two signs to scale. Then I headed to the kitchen, tore off a corner of a box of cat food cans, and used the cardboard to mount the signs.

mini little free library take a book sign

Miniature library stand made from a cinnamon stick, a candle lid, pebbles and hot glue

Then on to the books. Again, lots of ideas tried and discarded before I came up with a plan. I used the binding from a couple of paper sample books passed on to me years ago. I cut through all the layers of the sample booklets, and then cut sections down to size.

mini little free library book making supplies

Sourcing supplies for the miniature books. Upper left, clockwise: sample books used for structure, book covers made from a recycled Humane Society calendar, one of my dad’s vintage stamps, floral Washi tape, Graphic 45 printed paper

Each tiny book has a unique cover with a small story to go with it. (The actual books are blank inside, so you have to use your imagination.)

I wrote a six-word story to go with each book, something meaningful to me or to Carrie. Here they are:

Trust, betrayed. Rescued dog’s love, restored.

Flowers. Achingly beautiful. Harbingers of spring.

Magic. How we see the world.

Wanted child. Your new family awaits.

The Wonderland of Alys in miniature.**

Daddy’s stamps lovingly travel the world.

Dragon Folklore. Escape inside a book.

mini little free library collage

Can you match the books with the six-word stories?

**The Wonderland of Alys is a collage art piece by Pauline King, a friend and fellow blogger. The original hangs in our home. The tiny replica of this piece is a sticker, sent to me at Christmas by Julia of Defeat Despair. I couldn’t resist turning one of those art stickers in to a tiny, make-believe book.

Pauline King art the wonderland of alys

It’s The Little Things (Even Libraries)

I’ll start at the beginning.

A few years back I spotted a small, neighborhood library in the nearby community of Campbell. I was smitten! I went back to drop off books, then returned again with my husband. After seeing the library and doing some research, I knew I wanted one too.

little free library campbell, california

Little Free Library, Campbell, California Steward: Carmencita Valerio

In keeping with the tenets of the Little Free Library movement, we started looking for recycled materials. We spotted something that would work at a garage sale, but we mulled it over for too long and it was gone.

Enter my friend Nick, who’s a master carpenter extraordinaire. Nick built our Little Free Library (LFL) from reclaimed redwood fencing and deck material. Perfection.

little free library history collage

Little Free Library Construction and Design: Nick Timmermann Steward: Alys Milner

The books flow in, the books flow out, and an entire community of readers stop by daily to give or take a book. The motto is “Take a book, return a book” with the understanding that you can do either. I’m considered the library steward, but the library belongs to the community.

About six months later my friend Mary Elizabeth asked, perhaps tongue in cheek, “When are you going to build a Little Free Library for your fairy garden?”

miniature little free library

Miniature Little Free Library in the Fairy Garden

How could I resist that challenge? So I did, and of course I blogged about it here.

Fast forward to last November. I received one of those WordPress notifications saying that my (Little)Little Free Library post had a spike in views. Someone shared my post on the official Little Free Library Facebook Page and that’s how I met Carrie Marie.

Carrie is a library steward in Winston-Salem, Massachusetts.  When she saw the Facebook post, she asked if “the artist”…referring to me (blush) would make one. Delighted, I offered to make one as a gift after I recovered from surgery.

Here’s what she said:

Hi Alys,
I would be happy to pay for supplies needed to make us a tiny LFL! My husband and I are in the process of adopting through foster care here in NC and we have Little Free Library #11934. We’d like to teach the child about the concept of the LFL and are incorporating it into other things. I’m very appreciative of your offer! The one you made is darling!!!!!

What a gracious soul! So over the last few weeks, I’ve been plotting and planning and constructing a miniature replica of Carrie Marie’s Little Free Library.

Here is a sneak peek:

Miniature Blue Little Free Library

Miniature Blue Little Free Library

I’m writing a second post with details of how I made it, along with the stories that go with each tiny book.

It’s been a blast!

Stay tuned.