Thinking about the Division 92 Little Free Library, three months after we opened –
As soon as I’d heard of Little Free Libraries, I knew I wanted to host one of my own as well. I don’t know how long it took me to get around to ordering one, but it took almost three years to get from my LFL showing up in the mail to putting it in the ground and opening it up to the public. I started to paint it myself. I had a plan (pumpkin orange, eggplant purple, olive green, was going to make stencils to have “Division92 LFL” on one side). I did get the weatherproofing stain done, inside and out. I also mod-podged several pages of an old book to the interior of the lower level – the pages are from the beginning of a chapter, and I managed to keep them in order, so you can read every other page from the first 12 or 14 pages from the 6th chapter of this book no one’s heard of.
Then my LFL sat in my garage. And sat and sat and sat. An artist friend of mine offered to paint it for me. I couldn’t say “yes” quickly enough. She got it all done for me, and with the color scheme I’d originally wanted. She included the dogwood tree over the LFL and the flicker that visits the feeders in our yard! She even donated a bag of books to get things started!
I wish we’d managed to get the post sunk just a little deeper into the ground. As it was, it took at least three of us to get it in as far as we did – We live on an old river bed, so our yard is nothing but packed clay and river rock with raised fruit/flower/veg beds sitting on top. Because the post is set so high, and because of our 3-foot fence, short & little kids can’t get into the LFL on their own. Which means the children’s books aren’t moving quite as well as I’d hoped. On the other hand, little kids don’t pass our house very often on their own in the first place.
I’d also hoped to be able to set up a bench or chair for folks to sit and look through books for a bit. Unfortunately, there are some factors that prevent this. 1) We don’t have a sidewalk strip, and we do have a fence right at the edge of our yard. So nowhere to put seating that doesn’t block the sidewalk 2) Our neighborhood is a little sketchy, so the seating would likely disappear fairly quickly. I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far (knock on wood!) that we haven’t had any vandalism yet, nor any weirdness left inside the LFL, but I also have to assume that’s just a matter of time. As it is, our LFL is set up in full view of the large windows of our house. Not only can we watch people at our LFL, it’s obvious from the sidewalk that we can. I suspect this has helped prevent some issues.
We’re just getting into our rainy season. I’m going to have to look into some weatherproofing strategies. I know I need some DampRid inside. I might also look at blocking up the joins to make sure rain and bugs can’t get in that way. I’ve also been meaning to find a new latch. The latch that came with my LFL is nice and all, but if you don’t set it just right, the door sometimes opens on its own. I’ll eventually get some light inside as well. Probably just some cheap battery-powered lights, as I have to assume they’ll disappear quickly. Though I do know one or two people who might be able to rig up a solar-powered thing. Hm.
Right from the beginning, people knew what to do. We not only noticed books leaving, we noticed new books showing up. And the one day the LFL was wiped out (seriously – adult, children’s, English, other languages, fiction, non-fiction – *all gone*), I was on my way to an all-day event so I couldn’t do anything about it. On my way to my event, I posted to my neighborhood facebook groups that I was a little surprised and sad about it, but that we’d keep going. By the time I got home, less than 6 hours later, the LFL was completely full, someone had dropped off two boxes of books, and someone else had texted me to say they intended to drop off books but found it full so they gave the books to another, nearby LFL. And almost all of those messages and books were from people I still haven’t met yet. How awesome is that? We’ve also gotten boxes and bags of books from folks in the neighborhood or at least passing through. There’s one guy who’s given a TON of books and I haven’t been home for any of his donations yet. My MIL met him once, and everything else was just set on our front porch. I like to think I’m getting to know him at least a little by the books he’s given us!
Most folks are using the LFL when I’m not home, or at least not outside. I’ve spoken with a few people. I’m hoping to find some regular visitors and get to know them a little. That’s an ideal outcome, though. Right now I’m happy people are using it, nothing truly awful has happened yet, and I’ve been gratified by the few folks who do spot me while I’m gardening, and shout “thanks for the books!”.
Looks like, overall, we’re doing okay.