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Around the world, there are over 32,000 Little Free Libraries installed in 70 countries – this is the remarkable story about the very first one and how it ignited a worldwide thrill for sharing books and expressing creativity.

A Little Free Library™ is just a neighborhood book box for free book sharing. It’s a more or less a box, maybe the size of a dollhouse, where you can leave a book, take a book, or both. Above all, a Little Free Library™ adds a sense of friendliness and community to a neighborhood. The story on the origin of the Little Free Library™ movement is really quite cool, and it’s told in the video above. Take a few moments to watch it. That might help get you interested in making one.

We’re running a contest on building a Little Free Library, so we thought it would be a good idea to share a few guidelines for building one. Since this box lives outside, how do you build it so it’ll stand the test of time and withstand the effects of sunshine and water?

Fortunately, it’s really pretty simple.

1. Materials – Look to Plywood

For an outdoor project like this one, the materials you choose are less important than how you protect the final project. The simplest solution is often the best, and in this case that means look to sheet goods rather than solid lumber to build the carcass.

If you were to look for materials in our warehouse, we’d point you to Baltic birch or marine grade plywood. These plywoods are made with exterior adhesive between layers, so they’re dependable. Elsewhere you might be able to get your hands on Medex or another synthetic or composite sheet good.

Any construction grade plywood works too as long as you protect it well.

2. Joinery – Glue & Screws

For this project, you’re most likely going to be using good old fashioned glue and screws. Joints that provide excellent gluing purchase are rabbets, dadoes, and loose tenons.

If you’d like your screws to be hidden, consider pocket hole joints with stainless steel screws.

3. Weather Protection – Paint

Arguably, your outdoor project is only as good as the weather protection you give it. Water based latex acrylic paint is probably the best protection for a Little Free Library. It lasts a long time and can withstand exposure to severe weather.

A bead of silicone will hold in a Plxiglass or acrylic window while also keep your box water tight. You could also run silicone on the inside joints to help seal your library really well.

The door to your Library provides a challenge, but it’s easily overcome. Just take a look at the doors on your own home and take a queue. A piece of foam rubber around the inside edge of your Library door may be all that’s needed to make a good seal.

Roof should be sloped to shed water. It’s pretty common to use remnant roofing materials like shingles on Little Free Libraries – not a bad idea at all.


Note: We’re running a contest for Arizona woodworkers to build a Little Free Library, enter it in our contest, and donate it to Southwest Human Development in a campaign to add 100 Libraries to neighborhoods in the Phoenix area. Below are some tips on how to build one. Details about the call for entries are here >>>


Vice President of Operations – Woodworkers Source
We’re a family-owned lumber & woodworking supply retailer with 3 delightful stores in Arizona, and 35 friendly employees.
Mark oversees the company and creates tutorials on wood finishing and woodworking tips for hardwood lumber.

Discussion, Questions & Answers


  • jina williams

    where can i find a class to build my own library? I don’t have any woodworking tools but I am looking to change my community. Big heart no resources can anyone help me.

    • sheila rosenthal

      Hi Jina. My daughter had a similar situation. She joined a local Woodworkers club, and asked them to help her build it. It was a great opportunity for people to share their skills.