There’s this wonderful trend sweeping the nation. Little weatherproof structures that look like glorified birdhouses with doors and built to be miniature free libraries are popping up in neighborhoods across the country. I’ve spotted them in tiny towns on the very tip of Cape Cod, in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, at altitude in Colorado, and beachside in California. The phenomenon is like librarian-chic version of the pop-up boutique or the artisan taco truck – they’re local, small-scale and completely awesome
If you do a little search on Pinterest, you’ll see tons of examples, but here are a few of my favorites just to get your wheels turning.
Here at Mixbook, we’re big fans of books, obviously, but we also love the self-starting, generous spirit of the Little Free Library movement. (Let’s call it a movement!) If self-publishing a printed book means being the author of one or more stories based on your life, it follows that building your own Little Free Library would be a natural extension. You’ve taken the creation of books into your own hands, why not take on the loaning and borrowing too? And if, in your miniature library, you house a self-published book that just so happens to be about the unique process of building yours, well, it’s so meta my head might explode just trying to unpack all the reflexive relationships therein.
Luckily the process of building one is not so rich with nuance. Not only is it simple to build one, The Little Free Library shows you how to create one using detailed step-by-step instructions. They also happen to offer plans for a couple different specific designs, including a sweet Amish Shed style, plus inspiration photos that depict many others built by wonderfully creative individuals across the country.
When my sister completed hers and sent me all the photos of the process, I, naturally, thought it was the perfect subject for a custom Mixbook. Here’s the book she created, which now sits within the four tiny walls of her Little Free Library in the mountains of Colorado.
Friends and neighbors – or one of the many cyclists who ride by her home on a regular basis – might stop and peruse the holdings. The structure itself is a wonderful way to build the character of any community. Not only does it look cool and inspire people who drive through your neighborhood, it encourages sharing, sparks conversation and facilitates connection. Including a Mixbook on the making of the library within the structure is also a great way to acknowledge all the friends and neighbors who helped build it.
From what I can tell, it’s a win, win, win! If you choose to build one for your community, make sure you make it a neighborhood effort – and take lots of photos along the way so you can create your very first book to place in the library. Consider printing a few copies in the mini book format to place within the library in case someone borrows it permanently (comfort yourself by knowing they must have been really inspired). And print hardcover copies for anyone who played an important role in building it. Before long, your Little Free Library will become a part of your neighborhood’s history – and your Mixbook will become the original historical volume residing within.