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.


Dedicating the Little Free Library

Warm temperatures and a cool breeze were a welcome gift Saturday during  the Little Free Library dedication.

The idea for little libraries started in Wisconsin in 2009

Todd Bol built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading.  He filled it with books and put it in his front yard.  His neighbors and friends loved it, so he built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS.

Little Free library.org is now a non-profit as well as a movement, spreading the love of reading around the world.

I dedicated The El Codo Way Little Free Library, to two of our local teachers, Debbie Hughes Judge and Carolyn Sullivan. Carolyn and Debbie (now retired) are highly regarded 2nd grade teachers at Bagby Elementary School. They were instrumental in supporting the Books at Home program at Bagby that encouraged disadvantaged youth to read at home over the summer. They’ve both been a tremendous personal support to me as well.

Here are a few highlights of the day:

We served cookies and water on the lawn and deck. Attendees took home a bookmark made from a unique collection of Pixar Animation postcards.  No two were alike.


Postcard bookmarks

Postcard bookmarks

Additional thanks to Candace Levers for donating Vision Literacy bookmarks to the LFL.   You can read more about their mission at VisionLiteracy.org.

There has been such an outpouring of support for our library. It’s easy to see why they’ve caught on around the globe.



Setting the Date: Little Free Library Dedication

Today I set the date for our Little Free Library dedication. The library, or LFL, went up in January. I shared the news by Facebook and email but didn’t do anything ‘official’. In February, the LFL listed on the global map, another fun milestone. March was our ‘rainy’ month and then we had the sprucing up of the curb garden.  So, here it is mid-April, with our dedication ceremony set for May 17th. I’m excited.

LFL evite

If you’re new to the idea of a Little Free Library, here’s the scoop:

It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share.

The Mission of the non-profit Little Free Library movement is to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide, and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.

I’ve dedicated the LFL to Debbie Hughes Judge and Carolyn Sullivan, life-long readers and teachers. They offered support and guidance as we piloted a Books-at-Home program at our grade school, a program created to serve disadvantaged readers. They will be guests of honor at our ceremony.

We’ll serve light refreshments and give out free bookmarks to all the attendees.

What’s New in the Library:

I found tiny Beatrix Potter books at our local Target in the dollar bins. When I tried paying for them, they said the books weren’t available for sale yet, and they returned them to the stock room. Have you every heard of such a thing? I was just sure I would miss out, but through a fortunate stroke of serendipity, I found them again a month later and quickly snapped them up.

I loved these little books as a child. The originals came out between 1902 and 1922. Beatrix Potter was a woman ahead of her time, an early environmentalist responsible for preserving the beautiful Lake District in Northern England.

little free library beatrix potter

Beatrix Potter

Also new in the library, and all the way from Canada, a copy of P.D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother? Thank you, Boomdee! This book was also a favorite growing up, published in 1960, though I’m pretty sure she picked it out for the aqua cover. 🙂

Are you my mother?

A gift to the Little Free Library

She inscribed the book with the following:

The more you read,
the more you will know
The more you learn
The more places you’ll grow.
-Dr. Seuss
For Alys and her LFL

from Boomdee

Through another stroke of serendipity, my mother gave me a copy of the Dr. Seuss book she quotes from when I graduated from college.  If you’ve never read Oh, the Places You’ll Go head to your nearest library, STAT.

little free library inscription

Beautiful inscription

Please join us Saturday, May 17th at 3:00 pm for a brief dedication ceremony in front of the El Codo Way Little Free Library
Honored Guests:
Debra Hughes Judge and Carolyn Sullivan
Bring a book, take a book.
Light refreshments and a free bookmark for all attendees

The Little Free Library is constructed from reclaimed materials.  Design and build by Nick Timmermann of Timmermann Natural Landscapes

Little Free Library: Books for Everyone

Little Free Library

The base of the library is ready for plants

The Little Free Library is a hit.  The outpouring of support makes my heart sing.  I received a number of emails from neighbors and friends promising books and offering support.  Several of my friends shared my blog post on Facebook.  I’m planning a dedication ceremony as well so stay tuned for details.

I received the following email from a dear friend:

I just adore you new free book library and wanted to add four of my favorite mystery authors. I have these paperback books coming straight to you from Amazon. Please add in honor of our friendship and my aunt Vicki who as you know was a reading specialist. Believe it or not, it was 5 years ago in December we lost her. I miss her as much today as then but she is always in my heart/thoughts and she would be so proud of her great-nephew. Jackson won the school award for reading the most books last year. Kristi

Wow!  In addition to being a great friend, Kristi got me hooked on two fun authors, Sue Grafton (great mysteries) and Janet Evanovich (the laugh out loud adventures of a bounty hunter in New Jersey).

New this week:

One for the Money

A is For Alibi

No Nest for the Wicket

Keepsake Crimes

Once the library was official, I found myself scrutinizing everyone who walked by.  Would they stop?  Would they look? Would they take a book?  It didn’t take long for a few of the children’s books to move.  One afternoon a woman pulled into my driveway  (picture me trying hard not to stare) and her son got out and collected a book.  Mortified, my teenage son begged me not to stare or worse, take a picture.  Who me????  Of course I would never take a photo of someone without permission, but it was exciting to watch it unfold (the book borrowing,  not my son’s angst).  I remember my teenage years.  So many things embarrassed me so I make an extra effort to stay aware of his emotional discomfort.

Ways to get involved

One of the questions last week was: Is there an effort to see these in some of the poorer areas?

Yes!  There are a number of initiatives in the works to spread the love of reading worldwide, especially in low-income and impoverished areas. Here are a few:

Africa: Send a beautifully designed Little Free Library and more than $1,000 worth of books to Africa! Your contribution supports construction, decoration, registration, signage and enough books to help an entire village in need.

Small Towns: A small town or neighborhood near you may not have a public library of its own. One Little Free Library can bring the joy of reading to children, older adults or a whole community. Your donation will help build, deliver, install and stock one or more Little Libraries with quality books.

India: Our nonprofit partner in India is already at work using beautiful books and Little Free Libraries to inspire poor kids to stay in school and learn to earn a living. Children who thought it wasn’t even possible to dream of attending school will have the chance to learn language, geography, science, math, health and business skills. Each $500 sponsors a Library and hundreds of books that can last for at least three years. For both donors and receivers, this program can transform lives.

Minneapolis Public Schools: As many as 100 Little Free Libraries will be installed by and for neighborhood kids in a new program created with Minneapolis Public Schools. More than 20 have already been committed. The goal is to interest children who have not yet learned the pleasure and value of books. Thousands of books have been offered by Coffee House Press, Reach a Child and others. Each Library starts with more than $500 of books.

You can read details about the above initiatives and more at Little Free Library.Org

back of the library

Back of the library, reclaimed fencing