The Inspector

By NPI, Inc.



How to Start a Little Library

 November 6, 2023 |  DIY, Home Decor, Just for Fun |  home exterior, new homeowner, garden

One major challenge that can come from moving into a new neighborhood involves transforming your new house into your new home. As we’ve discussed recently, a great way to become comfortable with a new city or a new area is to invest in relationships with your neighbors! Becoming familiar with (and hopefully liking) your neighbors often sounds nice in concept, but breaking through that initial comfortability barrier can be tough. The good news is this: there are many underutilized strategies that new homeowners and long-time homeowners alike can employ to make their neighborhood of strangers feel much more like a community.

As homeowners, learning how to be a little more self-sufficient is smart. Challenging yourselves with progressively difficult DIY projects should give you an excuse to spend some more time outside and break the ice while meeting new neighbors. For a beginner-level DIY project that can be as simple or complex as your experience allows, nothing works quite as well as starting a Little Library.

What is a Little Library?
Also known as Little Free Libraries, Library Boxes, or just Neighborhood Book Exchanges, Little Libraries have been popping up more and more in coffee shops, apartment buildings, and neighborhoods all around the world in the past few decades. While designs can vary wildly, the main concept remains consistent: small, usually creatively designed boxes displayed in public places which contain books and a simple “take a book, leave a book” policy.

Bibliophiles everywhere tend to be big fans of these “Little Libraries” due to their access to a free, cycling source of new books as well as an outlet for their own, unsolicited recommendations, but even the literary-agnostic have found reasons to fawn over these front yard accessories. Since Little Libraries are usually built, designed, and maintained by a single homeowner, some may not immediately see the benefit of going through the effort. But for many, this minor fixture has made a major change in their own neighborhoods.

How Library Boxes Can Enrich a Neighborhood
The first and most obvious benefit that Little Libraries offer to a neighborhood is the promotion of literacy. According to a recent PEW research poll, only 64% of American adults reported having read a book in the past 12 months (as of the end of 2022). Homeowners are responsible for creating the type of neighborhood that they want to live in, and what Little Libraries can bring is an increased appreciation for books, even if it’s on a smaller scale.

It can be smart to pick up a few outdoor hobbies or start a project in the yard when moving into a new home so that neighbors have more opportunities to introduce themselves early on. A Library Box installation just might be the best conversation starter there is, and in an ideal scenario, a neighborhood book exchange has the potential to greatly accelerate the development of community. Is there a better way to get to know somebody than to learn about some of their favorite books first hand?

How to Start Your Own Little Library
Building a library box isn’t very difficult. Start by deciding your strategy based on your experience and the amount of time you’d like to devote to the project. While a fully DIY library box will result in the most custom feel, there are plenty of simple designs available online for free and even full boxes available for purchase. Check out Little Free Library's website to explore these options, and get your library box on their official registry!

For some general design advice, remember to place your library box far enough away from your home so that you retain your privacy and so that your neighbors don’t feel as though they are invading your space. Library boxes are there for the neighborhood to use after all! Consider placing it strategically at the end of your property to make your open invitation clear.

When it comes to filling your little library with boxes, have fun with adding some of your favorites, but remember to consider your audience. If your neighborhood is full of kids, try to incorporate plenty of children’s books or young adult novels. If the area is more diverse, feel free to make the initial collection more eclectic! Then, leave room for others to join in on the fun and leave their own recommendations.

The best little libraries tend to take on a life of their own when the neighborhood embraces them. Just remember to check in from time to time, and be sure to attend to minor maintenance needs when necessary. Water intrusion and wood-destroying organisms like termites can spoil the fun if left to their own devices, but these issues can be easily resolved through regular self-inspection. Little libraries are a great way to add curb appeal and make a new house feel like home! Give it a try - you won’t regret it!

National Property Inspections is dedicated to helping homeowners make wise decisions with what is likely their biggest investment. We also teach you how to keep your home in good working order for the long haul. For residential purchases and any home maintenance concerns, call NPI to work with America’s premier home inspection experts!

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