Updated: Feb 12, 2021
Little free libraries have been popping up all over the world. We want to place a focus on sustainability for the library setup, where the content will help educate and inspire everyday people.
1. Pick a library and caretaker
When you’re developing a little resilience library you will want to identify a location and a library caretaker. The caretaker could even be you! A good location will be highly trafficked and highly visible by pedestrians. The caretaker will be in charge of making sure the library is kept clean, promoting the library and making sure it appears inviting and populated with resilience resources!
2. Build the structure!
Once you have your location secured, the next step is to build the exterior structure. There are several free little library plans online that you can build from scratch, but if we’re trying to raise awareness around sustainability, you should do your best to build the library with sustainable materials. Try checking places like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or construction sites for old cabinets that are still in good condition. You can usually find a variety of available used kitchen cabinets in the price range of $0-20, or your local hardware store may have some that are damaged and are priced at a discount.
Once you’ve secured your used kitchen cabinet, you’ll want to make sure it has some weatherproofing to prevent the contents from being damaged. If your library is made of wood, after exposure to moisture it may mold, rot or grow mildew. The best step to take to avoid this is to either paint or stain the wood. If you decide to paint it, make sure you apply a coat of primer, and then use an exterior house paint to cover it. Try picking a paint that is eco-friendly. Eco-friendly paint characteristics include zero VOC’s, non-toxic, and water-based. Avoid paint with plasticizers, adhesives, hardeners, pigments, and drying accelerants. Many hardware stores also have a discounted paint section, where they mixed colors for an individual but they didn’t pick up the paint or they changed their mind. This is also a more sustainable option for picking out paint, as it’s something that has already been created and will be thrown out after a certain period of being sat in the store.
To avoid water pooling at the top of your library, you can build an angled or slanted roof so that snow will fall off the sides as it melts. However, if you stick with the base design of a kitchen cabinet, you can just clear off the snow from the top to avoid any water pooling.
Adding a roof overhang will keep rain and snow away from the door and sides of your library and protect the contents. The best width for this overhand is around 3”. Once you have it set up, it’s time to secure it in its location!
3. Populating the library
To help avoid water damage to the contents of your library, add a silicone mat or breathable prop underneath the books. This adds a sense of security, so if the water does get inside the books will not sit in a puddle of water and will be protected. It will also provide better air circulation and help minimize condensation.
We’ve created a list of books that we think are a great start in the resilient library:
Earth Remembers When…
An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
Earthh by 365 dude
Linus the Vegetarian T-Rex
No Green Eggs or Ham: A Vegan Dr. Seuss Parody
Dreaming in Turtle by Peter Laufer
Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change by Michael E. Mann and Lee R. Kump
Once you’ve secured your books and populated your library you’ll want to start advertising it so the community knows this is a resource available to them!
4. Build Support
If your community has a neighborhood Nextdoor page, ask a parent or teacher to help you post an announcement of your library’s grand opening! Other places you can announce your library's grand opening is on a Facebook community page or by reaching out to your local newspaper and sending them a press release.