Used Bookshelf Becomes ‘Little Free Library’

Several years ago I stumbled across my first Little Free Library.  I jotted down the website from the sign ( and later read about the movement to encourage reading and community fellowship.  I knew some day I would start a library, too.  Then, I found a used bookshelf at the Lima ReStore that was the perfect answer!

michelle with library


I admit to being a book-a-holic.  While I am an avid public library user, buying books has also given me much pleasure.  What could possibly beat an afternoon spent  browsing a local bookstore, talking books and authors with knowledgeable sales staff, and leaving with a new book (or two, or three…).  During my 27 years as a teacher, I bought hundreds of children’s books for my classrooms, justifying my purchases not only by knowing they would be read and loved by my students, but also expecting my own two children would find joy in those books.  Over the years, I have donated boxes of books to book fairs for fundraising, sent off former students at the end of the school year with books in hand, and passed along books to friends and family.  But I still find many books that, while lovely to look at, are unlikely to be reread sitting on the shelves in my home.

Design and Construction:  I enlisted the help of my husband for design and construction.  We wanted our library design to complement the Old Station building in the lake community where it was to be placed, and we wanted to primarily use repurposed materials and leftover building supplies on hand.  We started with a used bookshelf purchased at the Lima Habitat ReStore that was structurally sound.

 Here is a picture of the bookshelf at the ReStore and a second picture during reconstruction.

in processon shelf at restore


Adding materials we had on hand:  Ed used scrap wood siding and trim pieces in constructing the front frame, an extra layer of support on the back, pitched-roof structure, and the roof itself.  A scrap of rolled roof shingle protects the top.  We purchased Plexiglas to replace the glass in an old window that we repurposed as a door.  The original window hardware acts as a door latch.  The open section at the top of the library contains a cork board for messages and a place for people to put books they want added to the library.


Installation: We placed the library on cinderblocks and secured it to a post driven into the ground and reinforced on the back of the big box.  After adding our official Little Free Library charter sign and our initial 36 books, the library was open for business.   A number of curious people stopped to see what we were doing while putting the library in place, including a teenager on his bike ready to bring some of his own books to add to the library.

library sidw view

It’s Not Just Mine!  The hard part now is letting go. This library is for the community, not just for me. I hope more people will gather on that corner, chatting, looking at books, adding to our book journal, and taking a book with them.  I will help to keep the library welcoming for all.

As we packed up our tools and prepared to leave, we heard a friend riding on her bicycle holler to the postal clerk across the street, “Watch out for our library.”  OUR library – It is a sign that this Little Free Library will be a success!

library front view

Wouldn’t it be great if someone took a used bookshelf to the next level and became a steward of a Little Free Library located on site at our Lima ReStore? Use your imagination exploring what possible building materials are available in the ReStore!

By Michelle Boyer