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Did you know that one out of six children who do not read at age level by the end of third grade will not graduate from high school? In fact, in middle income neighborhoods, there’s a ratio of 13 books for every child. Regretfully, in low-income neighborhoods the ratio is alarmingly backwards: 300 children for every one book. It’s no secret that access to books and exposure to reading are vital keystones of an education.

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.
– Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

So, one way woodworkers in our area have pitched in to help out is by building neighborhood book sharing stations called Little Free Libraries – basically small outdoor bookcases with a lot of personality.

Local nonprofit Southwest Human Development runs a number of early childhood programs to promote literacy, and one of them is to install Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods around metropolitan Phoenix. While the organization has a plan to install these Libraries, they needed some people to build the projects. We at Woodworkers Source figured that we have a pretty enthusiastic base of customers who:

  1. have the knowledge to build things out of wood
  2. would probably be thrilled to use their shop & skills to benefit their community
  3. could build some really creative and inspiring projects that might motivate others to do the same

So here we are! We wrapped the idea of building Little Free Libraries around a woodworking contest, but the chance to win a prize or two wasn’t even the point. In fact, what Woodworkers Source did wasn’t anything special. Instead, the magic is in these people who decided to dedicate a lot of time, energy and money to build a Little Free Library

Over the years, thanks to the folks who built these Libraries, thousands of children and adults will have better access to books. And, as you can see in this gallery of projects, they built some wonderful, creative, and beautiful book boxes.

ribbon-blue“Little Free Library” by Oscar Witham

(First Place)

Oscar used reclaimed materials to build this Library. Be sure to take a peek inside where he “installed” warm hardwood flooring and a lifelike dollhouse-style built-in bookcase along the back wall.


 

ribbon-red“London Call Box” by Philip Rupprecht

(Second Place)

Phil left no detail undone in this miniature replica of a British phone booth, which is clearly painted vivid red and is adorned with a curved roof.


 

ribbon-yellow“Casita” by John Anderson

(Third Place)

If an adobe-like building belongs anywhere, it’s in the southwest USA. The door is stained oak, which matches two small windows on both sides of this handsome library.


 

Of course, all the entries deserve recognition for a job well done. Here are the rest:

 

Dick & Jane’s Book Store
By Dick & Jane Selleck

The Sellecks own two Sylvan Learning Centers, so naturally they were drawn to the idea of using their woodwork to help promote literacy.

“Big Book” Little Free Library
by Joe Tripodi

Joe’s Library is in the shape of a large book and it reminds him of a time in childhood when kid on the block would swap comic books with one another.

 

M & M Book Barn
by Jennifer & Marty Douglas

Jennifer and Marty are a daughter/father duo who used some reclaimed wood to craft this rustic barn Little Free Library and draped solar powered ambient lights around the roof. It was built in memory of their two dogs, whose picture they’ve transferred to a wood panel above the door.

 

Treasure Chest
by Bill Aldrich

Bill had to figure out how to create an authentic looking gray weathered stain for his treasure box, but it seems he pulled it off. Inside he left a copy of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. In the end, he hoped to convey that books contain treasures.

 

Untitled
by Skye Lucking

If there’s a Little Free Library with some personality, here it is. Skye’s Library was painted with the help of friends and strangers, which really makes it a community effort.

 

Tiny Library
by Matthew Ogden

The largest Little Free Library that made it into this display comes with the most ironic name.
Matthew also painted it with chalk board paint to let users leave messages about their hopes, dreams, and unrequited loves. Or book requests for the next donation.

 

Caboose
by Jessica & Gus Dimino

Gus and Jessica are another father/daughter team who built a Little Free Library, and they made this clever train caboose.

 

Little Free Library
by Don Krug

Don happens to be a teacher and thought it would be pretty cool to build a Little Free Library that looks like a one-room school; much like the ones his parents attended when they were little. He painted it with high gloss enamel paint, too.

Little Free Library
by Suzanne Jordan

This is a first time project for Suzanne, and we’d say she did a fine job! She included whimsical door handles, scroll sawn Sonoran desert scenes above and below the door, and a couple of nocturnal desert critters are making cameos near the roof apex on both sides.

 

Little Free Library
by Jason McNamara

Jason gave his Library a bright purple paint job, and added Little Free Library messaging on the side panels to make it fun and lively.

 

Little Yellow Free Library
by Wes, Laura & Maya Crisp

This family also lovingly used reclaimed materials to build their Library, which came out bright and fun with a blue door and beautiful hand inscriptions on the front.

 

Outhouse
by Don Petrie

I will refrain from making a “reading in the bathroom” joke . . .
Seriously, this clever and funny outhouse themed Little Free Library sure did get a lot of comments and laughs.

Dune
by Kenneth J. Backer

Kenneth jumped in with his love of books and built this fun shaped leaning Little Free Library with personality.

 

Untitled
by Kris Larosa

Kris used all recycled materials to make this great looking Little Free Library

Slanted Roof Old Pueblo
by Ben Bordner

Thanks to the slanted roof, Ben’s Little Free Library can take some tall books, too.

 

Book Ship
by Leroy Timblin

Most Little Free Libraries have a typical rectangular shape with a sloped or angled roof. But that’s not going to work if you want it to look like a pirate ship Leroy had to bend wood strips to create the boat shape, so while it took a lot of work, it’ll hold a lot of books.

 

Snoopy & Woodstock Relaxing
by Wes Welter

My apologies as it was hard to get a proper picture of this Little Free Library in our darkened warehouse “studio” – but click the image to get a closer look. It’s a classic scene with Snoopy and Woodstock hanging out on top of a dog house.

 

Yellow Roof Lean House
by John Teetser

When it comes to sharing books, people sure can come up with bright, fun ideas. John’s Little Free Library brings out the colors of the rainbow and brings attention to the treasures inside with a big front window.

 

Little Red Book Barn
by Dr. Clyde Perry

Here’s a gorgeous rendition of a wonderful country barn – fresh red paint and white trim! Both sides of this barn open up, and Clyde even included windows at the top.

 


Stagecoach by John Anderson

(Tied for 3rd place)

John actually entered two projects, and as coincidence would have it, both of his tied for third place. This beautiful stagecoach was, he freely admits, his wife’s idea. At first, you’ll wonder how it opens up, but click through the images and you’ll see.

 

 

 

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


  • Let’s not forget this picture! Here’s a group shot of the folks who made it out to the reception on March 12 to represent their project. They’re a pretty good looking bunch: