what was that? is that all there is? who is this? this is it.

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April 6, 2020

What would you do with a coffee can full of roofing nails and a full weekend where you didn’t need to travel past the end of the driveway?  A weekend when you couldn’t travel anywhere anyway because there was no place to go. 


A previous resident of my current home left behind numerous Sanka cans and jars filled with nails. All kinds of nails and more nails. I finally came up with a project that allowed me to use 10 or 12 of those nails. Now I only have 2 or 3 thousand more roofing nails to use and 12 cans or jars of other varieties. 


A few years ago I started thinking about free libraries more and more because my kids really like to visit all the ones in our zipcode. A few weeks ago I purchased a bag of cement and a pressure treated 4 x 4 and started thinking more specifically about building my own little free library. In that thought process I began to size up the various scraps that were sitting around the garage including a pile of 3-tab asphalt roofing shingles circa 1999, about 40 feet of pressure treated 2 x 8, a SIDEWALK CLOSED sign, a large DETOUR sign, half cooked cans of exterior house paint and a shit load of nails and lots of various sized screws. From two neighborhood friends I solicited some sweet plywood scraps and with some random other odds and ends I built a free library this weekend past. A gnome home. A destination for delirious parents in the hood that need to go for one more walk with their crazy kids that have no place to go. It’s a place to take a book or leave a book or just take a look.  


I’ve long been a fan of road signs or signs in general taken out of context. These two signs that were absorbed into this little library construction have been kicking around my apartments and homes for years and now they’ve been repurposed into a whole new context. Made from durable plywood with reflective coating they’re just the ticket to be put to use in an unexpected way.  


For the drip edge on the library roof I found some kind of metal threshold screen door thing from early in the Reagan years and hacksawed it to length on two sides and for the remaining edges I jerry-rigged some sheetrock corner bead into a halfass drip edge. But my favorite finagle was setting up a couple magnets to keep the doors closed. The magnets are the ones that come with a bike computer and attach to a front spoke to register each wheel rotation past the sensor mounted on the fork. Or at least that’s how it used to be because as you know it’s all ball bearings these days.  Those little magnets are strong like ox so they will suck the doors closed when not in use by attracting a little ferrous square of metal that’s screwed into the door. Just like magnetic cabinet latch doohickeys except they’re made from repurposed bike parts. But not in a hipster instagram way more of a scrappy bike mechanic little library way. 


They say the little library 

Ain’t so little 


this is a shot of work in progress with 9 year old kid added to show scale. you can see the rough framing (and it is rough) before plumbing, electrical and HVAC.

I'll send you another photo of it all closer to completion. 


Add Comment

like Ali said said...

read a book, read a book, read a motherfuckin book

Posted April 8, 2020 05:29 AM | Reply to this comment

pilder said...

One day some time around 2006 I walked past a yard sale at 12th & Denny and stopped to ask “how much is that DETOUR sign?” the proprietors chuckled and said “three dollars” so I bought it and walked home with it. I learned it wasn’t really part of their yard sale, someone had just pointed it their way from the construction happening near Cal Anderson.

Posted April 8, 2020 05:53 AM | Reply to this comment

Case said...

The Ron Jeremy of little libraries.

Posted April 9, 2020 02:03 PM | Reply to this comment

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