Category Archives: Little Free Library

The Garden

Raspberries planterI am married to an artist.  She paints, she writes (lately, haiku), is doing lots of cooking with our new kitchen, and she gardens.  It’s spring, so a lot of our effort is going into the garden. I willingly garden, but it is mostly the labor part. I dig, I built a cold frame and re-glazed it, I water and help plant.  I do not, however decide what to plant or where.  I am getting better at pruning with my left-handed Felco Pruner.  I mow, compost, rake, clean up, water, and haul.

We are landscaping in back, so lots of things are changing.  We have a nice new patio with a pergola.  The iris are already in along the fence and in the alley just outside.

The project this week is raspberries.  We had a 15 foot long cedar planter built just in front of the big blank slab of a garage wall that is YELLOW.  I prepared the planter soil with compost made from last falls leaves and a lot of coffee grounds from the coffee shops.  The raspberries will get fairly high and will break up that expanse of garage.  We were planning to have the raspberries planted by the pros but Carol got a call from a woman she met at a class offering free raspberries.



We jumped in my pickup and went over to their garden in what used to be a run-down neighborhood between I-25 and Highlands.  It is being transformed with new construction, but still retains some of the flavor of what it used to be.  We dug up about fifteen plants, brought them home and planted them. They were bare root, so some of them are looking pretty droopy, but I think they will make it.  My job is to set some eight foot cedar posts and run wires between them to support the raspberry canes.  The bushes can get about six to eight feet tall.  I can’t wait to have fresh raspberries in my muffins.

Our perennials are doing fine.  We were a bit worried after that early hard freeze we had last fall.  Even Carol’s attempt to clone the Pacific Northwest with a salal plant and some azaleas survived.  There is a deciduous bush next to the front door that is supposed to be evergreen that lost all its leaves.    It has lots of little buds and a few leaves, so I think it will be all right.

One of the things we are getting done in front is putting big rocks and some perennials on the slope from the lawn down to the sidewalk.  I am not getting any stronger, and that slope is hard to mow.  It also gets dry in summer, as it faces west.

Our Little Free Library is up and running. It is one of the features on the slope.  It is so much fun going out to check the books.  We get quite a bit of business, but no problem, because people keep bringing us books.  It’s painful, but I am culling some of my books.  It seems like some of my soul goes with them.  I hope they will enrich the soul of their next owner. It is good, life as a householder.

Little Free Library

Little Free Library

Little Free Library

Have you seen them?  These cute and brightly painted little houses are to be found in front yards all over town.  Bigger than a birdhouse, but much too small for a child’s playhouse, Little Free Libraries are popping up everywhere.  In fact, pretty soon Bill and I are going to have one in our front yard too!

Can you tell that I am excited?  I first ran across the Little Free Library concept on line sometime last fall.  As soon as I read about them, I knew I had to have one.  A career as a librarian always came up on the Strong Vocational Interest test when I was in school, and now I am finally going to be one.

LFL1 Right now our Little Free Library is sitting on a table in our new garage waiting for the final coats of bright red paint and protective glaze.  While the snow flies, it is too cold to paint.  Instead, I turn to my advance review copy of The Little Free Library Book by Margaret Aldrich (Coffee House Press, 2015).

If I can’t paint, I can read about other LFL librarians around the world who are finding so many pleasures in establishing small colorful libraries and sharing a love of books and reading with friends, neighbors and passing strangers.  I’ve learned that I wouldn’t have a chance to join this global community if not for Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin who built the first library in 2009 as a memorial to his book loving mother.  His library is No. 1.  Ours, received in January, 2015, is No. 21,265.

My favorite thing about this book is the many photographs of LFLs set up along city streets, suburban lawns and country roads from Bellingham to Bogota and other unexpected places around the world.  Many are elaborately decorated and embellished, but others are created out of found objects like discarded kitchen cabinets and even old microwaves.

Another exciting thing about the libraries is their power to build community.  Some librarians (they are called “stewards”) comment that they meet more people in a week since their library went up than they have met since they moved in to their neighborhood.   A big part of the fun is seeing who stops to poke through the books, which of the books are taken and what new books appear.

The Little Free Library Book contains suggestions for inviting others participation in library activities from a grand opening ceremony to organizing bike trips to visit other libraries nearby.  One steward met a family who had organized their vacation to visit LFL’s in distant communities.  What about making room for the distribution of original writing or setting up a small seed sharing project?

LFL2The Little Free Library Book offers many practical suggestions from how to install a counter to track visits to your library to how to deal with books that no one takes out or how to respond to problems that might come up with neighbors or city authorities.  While problems have arisen in some places, mostly the reception is very positive.  The Los Angeles Police Department has gone so far as to install LFL’s at their stations to encourage better community relations.

You might want to buy your LFL from the website   or, if you want to build your own, there are detailed plans to be found in The Little Free Library Book.  You can even find information on knitting your library a custom designed sweater!

By now you can tell that the LFL community is a zany and wildly creative bunch.  The Little Free Library Book is an exciting report filled with beautiful photos, great stories and inspiring ideas.  It’s worth a read even if you don’t want your own library.  But beware.  If you don’t want one now, you will after reading this book.  Look for it in April, 2015.  You can look for my library then too.

This is a guest post.  My wife Carol wrote it.  I am very much involved in the project, but Carol won’t let me paint.