Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
— Mason Cooley
 
 

Introduction

This is a behind-the-scenes gallery for the 2018 Little Free Library project.  This lending library was installed near a bus stop in central Salina on October 30, 2018. Photos of the progress with descriptions are shared here.

Little Free Libraries

These Little Free Libraries are typically smallish containers used as informal book exchanges and are located in neighborhoods all across the country.  There are so many designs of a vast array of concepts.  For many children in Salina, these little libraries allow access to books when they cannot readily get to the main library. The concept of a Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share.  While adults share their books in these libraries, children's books are always in demand and are especially needed.  For additional information, see littlefreelibrary.org.

Background

There are now nine Little Free Libraries in Salina.  See list here.  One of the first libraries installed in Salina had reached the end of its functional life.  Due to deterioration it needed to be replaced.  The local public library (oversees and monitors all Little Free Libraries in Salina) contacted the North Central Kansas Woodworkers Guild regarding creation of a replacement.  I (Peter Clark) volunteered to do the design and construction and collaborated with a local artist (Daniel Picking) to create the artistic elements you can see in the gallery below.

Design

Besides the function of protecting the books, the library needed to be durable and withstand common wear and abuse.  Environmental conditions at the site include strong winds, summer sun, rain, and more water from irrigation sprinklers.  Design elements as well as materials were considered and selected to address the challenges.  The inside compartment needs to hold several books of different sizes.  To properly store the books, the container needed to be weatherproof but it also had to allow some airflow so moist air could not build up inside. The main goal was to create a fun and appealing library that the community members will use and enjoy.

Your Role

If you have books that you can share, just put them in one of the little libraries!  Maybe you will see a book you want to borrow.  We always need more children's books in the neighborhood little libraries.

Preliminary conceptual layout for end view and front elevation.

Preliminary conceptual layout for end view and front elevation.

This is the early stage of the internal structure. The boards are to represent scaled-down posts or timbers from a covered bridge. The rough-sawn walnut posts will provide visual and tactile effect for the users. Much of the structure will be visible inside the library.

This is the early stage of the internal structure. The boards are to represent scaled-down posts or timbers from a covered bridge. The rough-sawn walnut posts will provide visual and tactile effect for the users. Much of the structure will be visible inside the library.

A preliminary sketch of layout for cutting components from a single 4' x 8' piece of plywood.

A preliminary sketch of layout for cutting components from a single 4' x 8' piece of plywood.

Various screw types are needed. A #10 countersink bit, square & star drives, plus good old Philips are being used. Most are made of stainless steel, and any others are rustproof.

Various screw types are needed. A #10 countersink bit, square & star drives, plus good old Philips are being used. Most are made of stainless steel, and any others are rustproof.

These holes help to give strength where the door's hinges will be attached.

These holes help to give strength where the door's hinges will be attached.

Here's the curved shelf with a fresh coat of primer.

Here's the curved shelf with a fresh coat of primer.

Trial fit with several children's books. The shelf allows more small books to go in the library.

Trial fit with several children's books. The shelf allows more small books to go in the library.

A hole for the door was cut into the plywood on front side. The door is tempoprarily attached with a all hardware installed.

A hole for the door was cut into the plywood on front side. The door is tempoprarily attached with a all hardware installed.

Back side primed with 2 coats of primer and outline drawn on over top.  Note that a different configuration of windows was used in the final version.

Back side primed with 2 coats of primer and outline drawn on over top. Note that a different configuration of windows was used in the final version.

Result of the stencil plus a light spray of the lighter red to even the color out a bit. Will use darker red when dry to paint in some details to create a weathered effect. Windows have been covered up but have the measurements written down to paint them back in once the boards are finished.

Result of the stencil plus a light spray of the lighter red to even the color out a bit. Will use darker red when dry to paint in some details to create a weathered effect. Windows have been covered up but have the measurements written down to paint them back in once the boards are finished.

The outside of the library is a marine-grade plywood. After sanding and priming, the sides and ends become "canvasses" for the artist to work on.

The outside of the library is a marine-grade plywood. After sanding and priming, the sides and ends become "canvasses" for the artist to work on.

The posts and beams needed to strengthen the structure. The beams on the closest end will support a small shelf.

The posts and beams needed to strengthen the structure. The beams on the closest end will support a small shelf.

View from above showing plywood floor notched to fit around the posts.

View from above showing plywood floor notched to fit around the posts.

Here the floor and curved shelf plus one end and one side have been temporarily installed.

Here the floor and curved shelf plus one end and one side have been temporarily installed.

Front side with door and handle ring in place.

Front side with door and handle ring in place.

Sketched outline of the board pattern for the back of the box. Boards are drawn on as an inch wide with three 2.5" x 3.5" windows.

Sketched outline of the board pattern for the back of the box. Boards are drawn on as an inch wide with three 2.5" x 3.5" windows.

First coat of red paint is on and tape is being applied to create the stencil for the edges of the boards which will be painted with a darker red.

First coat of red paint is on and tape is being applied to create the stencil for the edges of the boards which will be painted with a darker red.

 
The library will be attached to a wooden post. These cedar beams on the bottom of the library will distribute support from left to right, front to back.

The library will be attached to a wooden post. These cedar beams on the bottom of the library will distribute support from left to right, front to back.

The support post will go right where the screws are pointed toghther.

The support post will go right where the screws are pointed toghther.

Here is the existing mounting post. It is tattered, weathered, and tilts slightly to the east. We left a note!    Update:  Vandals snapped off this wooden post!  We decided that a metal post would be better anyway.

Here is the existing mounting post. It is tattered, weathered, and tilts slightly to the east. We left a note!

Update: Vandals snapped off this wooden post! We decided that a metal post would be better anyway.

View from below. Here we are test-fitting the mounting system on the existing post. It will work just fine.

View from below. Here we are test-fitting the mounting system on the existing post. It will work just fine.

View from street. Bus stop shelter on the left. Because the existing post is tilted to the east, the box would also be tilted. Don't worry! The mounting system design will compensate so that the library will be level. A cladding system will go around the post so that it will appear to be vertical when finished.

View from street. Bus stop shelter on the left. Because the existing post is tilted to the east, the box would also be tilted. Don't worry! The mounting system design will compensate so that the library will be level. A cladding system will go around the post so that it will appear to be vertical when finished.

The mounting system design shifts the front of the library a few more inches towards the sidewalk. One reason is that when it is filled with books along back, the internal weight load will now be closer to over the post. Otherwise, the weight in the back would tend to cause the back of the library to sag down. There will be a very slight tilt from back to front. This is to allow any liquid to drain out the front door in case some gets inside.

The mounting system design shifts the front of the library a few more inches towards the sidewalk. One reason is that when it is filled with books along back, the internal weight load will now be closer to over the post. Otherwise, the weight in the back would tend to cause the back of the library to sag down. There will be a very slight tilt from back to front. This is to allow any liquid to drain out the front door in case some gets inside.

View of the unfinished library looking to northeast during the test mounting. Here you can see the internal vertical beams around the perimeter of the container. There is currently a good stand of grass that grows right up to the support post. We are hoping that a fair-sized pad of concrete will be allowed to be installed below the library so the groundskeepers won't have to mow and weed-eat so close to the post.

View of the unfinished library looking to northeast during the test mounting. Here you can see the internal vertical beams around the perimeter of the container. There is currently a good stand of grass that grows right up to the support post. We are hoping that a fair-sized pad of concrete will be allowed to be installed below the library so the groundskeepers won't have to mow and weed-eat so close to the post.

The old library is on the left and unfinished new library on the right. The new one is a few inches wider left to right, but not quite as tall top to bottom.

The old library is on the left and unfinished new library on the right. The new one is a few inches wider left to right, but not quite as tall top to bottom.

Here you can see that the old library was much narrower from front to back than the new library. This also shows some of the deteriorated condition of the old one.

Here you can see that the old library was much narrower from front to back than the new library. This also shows some of the deteriorated condition of the old one.

Brazing a small sculpture to be a surprise inside the library

Brazing a small sculpture to be a surprise inside the library

Bottom when still hot!

Bottom when still hot!

Applying patina spray to the hot sculpture.

Applying patina spray to the hot sculpture.

After polishing. Patina variability shows up well.

After polishing. Patina variability shows up well.

Testing fit inside the partially-built library

Testing fit inside the partially-built library

View from the back. Mounted on allthread at an angle.

View from the back. Mounted on allthread at an angle.

View from end. Tilted using different length of allthread.

View from end. Tilted using different length of allthread.

Here’s the charter plaque! Soon you will be able to find this one on the World Map.

Here’s the charter plaque! Soon you will be able to find this one on the World Map.

Daniel is applying spray sealer.

Daniel is applying spray sealer.

Here’s the location on an aerial image.

Here’s the location on an aerial image.

We set the metal support post in concrete. The reinforcing bars seen here help attach the top pad at ground level to the footing going deeper into the ground.

We set the metal support post in concrete. The reinforcing bars seen here help attach the top pad at ground level to the footing going deeper into the ground.

Peter is using a float to level and smooth the top of the pad.

Peter is using a float to level and smooth the top of the pad.

Here is the gift-wrapped little free library before the official reveal ceremony on October 30, 2018

Here is the gift-wrapped little free library before the official reveal ceremony on October 30, 2018

Peter, Daniel, and Lori during the reveal ceremony. Daniel is sharing his artistic vision that put images of a rustic covered bridge alongside outer space.

Peter, Daniel, and Lori during the reveal ceremony. Daniel is sharing his artistic vision that put images of a rustic covered bridge alongside outer space.

View along sidewalk on first night. Bus stop shelter nearby for company.

View along sidewalk on first night. Bus stop shelter nearby for company.

Brave little library. All set for it’s first night in new location.

Brave little library. All set for it’s first night in new location.


 
A happy and full little library! This one is at Sunset Park.

A happy and full little library! This one is at Sunset Park.

A donation! Sharing books is fun and is certainly appreciated by the people who visit the little library. This one is in Hawley Park.

A donation! Sharing books is fun and is certainly appreciated by the people who visit the little library. This one is in Hawley Park.

A Suessical-inspired little library, located in Centennial Park.

A Suessical-inspired little library, located in Centennial Park.

The existing library that we will replace has deteriorated over time. Weed-eaters have battered the support post.

The existing library that we will replace has deteriorated over time. Weed-eaters have battered the support post.