A tiny vestibule of literary happiness
September 18, 2016 2:09 PM   Subscribe

Build your very own house for books to plant in your front yard, and become your neighbourhood’s Street Librarian.
posted by adept256 (31 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have no idea why I love this presentation more than the usual Little Free Library approach but for some reason I do. Thanks for linking to this.
posted by jessamyn at 2:10 PM on September 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a few feet of grassy space in front of my block and I am now thinking about doing this - thanks.
posted by Coda Tronca at 2:27 PM on September 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


no niemeyer or hadid version? lame
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:28 PM on September 18, 2016


So, is this just an Australia thing, or a 'competitor' to Little Free Library?
posted by leotrotsky at 2:33 PM on September 18, 2016


I suppose this is the Australian version. There are some links on their press page to Little Free Libraries projects in the states.

I don't see why this can't be done anywhere, besides councils, HOAs, living on the fifth floor etc.
posted by adept256 at 2:40 PM on September 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


On their People of Street Library page, they say "We owe a great intellectual debt to the founders of the Little Free Library movement in the USA. You can find out more about these fine folks at http://littlefreelibrary.org/". I wonder if they have any actual connection.

One big difference is that LFL wants you to pay them to register with them, while Street Library doesn't seem to have that expectation.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:41 PM on September 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


The cute magical box is a big part of it. Kids/kid in all of us.
posted by Coda Tronca at 2:44 PM on September 18, 2016


I got a copy of Plato's Symposium from one of these. I had never known what I was missing!
posted by heatherlogan at 2:45 PM on September 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am thinking about buying a house or a condo for the first time in the next year or so. I've been going back and forth about house vs. condo, and it just occurred to me that if I had a house, I could have a little free library! Which is a pretty big pro for the house side. I love these.

The reality is that I live in one of the craziest real estate markets in the country, so ultimately I'll just be buying whichever kind of place I can bid for and don't actively despise.
posted by lunasol at 3:28 PM on September 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I keep meaning to do this. But I have little to no carpentry skills and no tools.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:17 PM on September 18, 2016


No better way to learn!!
posted by wenestvedt at 5:25 PM on September 18, 2016


No better way to learn!!

I often wish there were public woodshops, where you could just drop in, pay a subscription or a day fee, and use someone's jigsaw and belt sander.

Like a gym, but for carpentry.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:37 PM on September 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


There are in some places. We have adult ed woodworking classes in my pretty small town. Worth at least poking around. I've seen some "very little skill required" little free library type things. Might be worth noodling around on Instructables. You might be able to make a thing with pre-cut lumber and some Liquid Nails.
posted by jessamyn at 5:45 PM on September 18, 2016


There's one on our block - we love it!
posted by ericbop at 5:48 PM on September 18, 2016


I often wish there were public woodshops, where you could just drop in, pay a subscription or a day fee, and use someone's jigsaw and belt sander.

Maker spaces, htwrt.
posted by zamboni at 6:38 PM on September 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


I work in a used bookstore and save way too many books from the dumpster. You really don't want to know how many unsaleable books get thrown away every day, not just by us but by almost all bookstores. I thought about a little free library but while I like the idea, they're all just a little too... Twee. Pinteresty. So I just did my own bare bones version. It's a clear plastic bin with a lid. The lid says free books on it in big letters in not very neat sharpie. In smaller letters it asks people not to add books and remarks that these are reading copies, not for resale. Which they could probably figure out since most of them are missing the cover or have their corners clipped or big Xs on the cover.

People stop by and check out the books. It's pretty cool! I am surprised by what goes and what doesn't - nobody took Ulysses, and The Goldfinch has been out there for a week without takers. But I'm glad that they're hopefully finding homes and so far, at least, nobody has shown up trying to sell them where I work.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:46 PM on September 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


This Twitter essay about the bird house libraries of Regina, Saskatchewan by @HeerJeet is a good fit for this thread, I think.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:12 AM on September 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


So I've been knocking on doors for a political campaign, and last week I going down a street that dead-ended in a wooded area. I was confused, because there were still addresses on my list, and I couldn't figure out where they were. So I looked into the woods, and I saw a path. It went down some wooden stairs, over a wooden bridge, down a dirt path a ways through the woods, and then up some other wooden stairs. I couldn't figure out if taking the path was safe or legal, but I assumed that the street picked up on the other side, so down I went. And right on the other side of the bridge there was a Little Free Library. I guess it's possible that people in the neighborhood use that path all the time, or maybe someone just thought it would be funny to put an LFL in the most obscure spot in town. It had books in it. I took a picture.

I love the idea of Little Free Libraries, but I think my town may have hit LFL saturation point. Part of it is that they mostly look the same. The ones on the Street Library site are really distinctive and charming, and I love that they're having classes for people who want to build their own.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:01 AM on September 19, 2016


Takoma Park, MD is full of these. I'm into it, but man, this climate is not great for books; I hope people rotate them out before they get all foxed and mildewed . . .
posted by aspersioncast at 6:42 AM on September 19, 2016


I have contributed many books to the LFLs in my town (there are plenty) and the stewards report that they are repeatedly just stolen. It's very disheartening.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:10 AM on September 19, 2016


What does stolen mean in an LFL context? I thought the books there were (or could be) giveaways?
posted by jessamyn at 7:11 AM on September 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, "stolen" seems to be taking things a little too sensitively. If people are constantly donating books (which they do with both of the LFLs in my neighborhood), you really do want people taking books and not returning them. It also helps keep the selection fresh.
posted by queensissy at 7:23 AM on September 19, 2016


"Stolen" as in there's video evidence of one person driving around town from library to library, taking every book, and then trying to sell them at used bookstores.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:24 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


These little free libraries in my neighborhood bother me, and I haven't been able to place my finger on it. Something to do with how we already have a really good library nearby, and a good used bookstore, and a large thrift store, all where the books are kept out of the rain. The books in the little hutches are usually not very appealing, and there's no lack of cheap paperbacks in the world. I'm not sure what problem they're trying to solve. There are parts of the world where people don't have access to books; my Seattle suburb is not one of them, and especially not the blocks where these show up.

But on the other hand it's not like they're hurting anyone (are they?) and I should probably stop being so cranky. I did find some copies of 1970s Cricket magazine in one once; that was cool.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:50 AM on September 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Something to do with how we already have a really good library nearby

Well, yeah, but it's got a corpse in it.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:01 AM on September 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


A new Little Free Library went up here in Austin recently, but this one is unusual because it has a sign indicating that it was donated by the city of Seattle. It says something along the lines of "Seattle loves to read, you should too!" I'm not sure why one city is donating a box to another one? It's especially weird considering that Austin has one of the highest rates of bookstore per capita, so the condescension is not needed?
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:43 AM on September 19, 2016


According to Texas Monthly, Dallas TX, Shreveport LA, Los Angeles CA and Leawood KS have all looked at regulating free libraries. The below seem like what most people do anyway so I wonder who was doing it differently and why.

In Dallas: And those rules would be as follows: The libraries can stand no taller than five feet and can be no wider than 20 inches and no deeper than 18 inches. In addition, anyone wanting to plant a Little Free Library in their front yard has to stay 10 feet away from a neighbor’s property line, and would be limited to a single structure per parcel.
posted by beaning at 11:14 AM on September 19, 2016


Considering this is based in Australia, is it too much to hope that someone makes a Mad Max "Road Library" out of old car parts?
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:01 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Like a Mad Max Bookmobile? I'll suggest it.

I can't open the link at work, but we've got one of those cute little boxes near me. It's pretty neat, and I'll probably add to it. But as somebody upthread said, it's not like people don't just drop off free books on the streets, or thrift stores, or used bookstores, or post them in Facebook groups for swapping and giving away free stuff....

My favorite version of this was Coogee Beach's massive Beach Library, which consisted of dozens of wooden cubes with plexiglass covers filled with beach reading. It said take them for free, so I took a few, even gifted an Anthony Bourdain book to my dad.

In retrospect that may not have been the best thing to do.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:42 PM on September 19, 2016


I'm already welding spikes onto a VW bug. The book launcher is problematic though, it seems to be stuck on the confetti crater setting.

I can verify Mygothlaundry's account of how many books go straight into the recycling bin. I wish it were hyperbole, but we put 90% of the books donated to our thrift store into the giant dumpster out the back. I have to decide what goes in there. A cookbook from 1978 that mentions lard: bin. Wuthering Heights: bin. Twilight and Fifty Shades, put them on the shelf, people actually buy those. It's crazy and heartbreaking.

Someone mentioned the books being stolen. Please, steal them. There isn't enough to do us loss. My only fear is that my head would split in half because of the giant ear to ear grin I'll wear. Someone thought these books were valuable enough to steal. That's more respect than being literally shredded, pulped, bleached and turned into toilet paper.
posted by adept256 at 5:27 PM on September 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Considering this is based in Australia, is it too much to hope that someone makes a Mad Max "Road Library" out of old car parts?

Picturing Book-Warrior Librarian bungee-corded to huge stack of shelves
posted by leotrotsky at 11:34 AM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


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