How to Start a Street Library

Fancy yourself a budding librarian? Why not start a street library and share your joy of reading with your community?

Imagine being a librarian in charge of your very own library. Imagine having the chance to put books in front of people so they can learn new and inspiring things about the world, art, music and everything and anything.

Imagine if the library was at your place, and you get to see books come and go, read and exchange them.

Well, you can become a librarian when you start a street library! It’s really simple – all you need to do is find a place where you can set up a waterproof container to hold the books so that your neighbours can then come along and start to use the library.

street library

Here are three tips to help you start a street library

Start small and simple

Use something like an old Esky, which makes a perfectly waterproof container when placed on its side and attached to a fence. An old toolbox can be given a liftable lid and made waterproof, or you can build something out of second-hand materials.

Try to re-use what you already have

The best place to start is to have a look around the garage at home, then you can look at the street clean ups with a new eye for what you need. Of course, my favourite place is the tip shop or recycle centre, because then you are giving materials a second life instead of them going to landfill.

I found an old purpose-built communications box: it was perfect because it already had some shelves in it, a perspex door so people can see in it, and was pretty much a sealed box.

homemade library

Think outside the box

I put a back on the communications box and added a floor above the drawer.

Books are the key, but why not add some other extras? The drawer was perfect for a seed swap, so I have envelopes and a pen inside so people can leave seeds as well as take and plant the ones that I have left in there.

Then I thought, ‘what about the roof, how about a rooftop garden?’ so I filled a container with sun-loving succulents that will slowly cover the whole roof. There was one side of the library that was just a wall, so I figured why not turn it into a bug hotel to encourage pollinating insects to come and set up home and work in my garden.

Making a street library is a project that you can do using things from home, the tip, off the street and out of nature. Go on, start collecting and make a library with your signature all over it.

You can contact Street Libraries Australia so you can get an official number and sign, and to help make the sharing of books something that happens all over the country.

Images courtesy of Street Libraries Australia.

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