Amidst the situation that we find ourselves in, there are little moments when I realise there can be some good. A few weeks ago somebody on the estate that I live on created the Children’s Book Nook – a little cabinet (weather proofed) – full of books for children to choose from on their daily walk.
I have loved the idea of a little library for years and years. I never dreamt that I would have my own. But that’s what we decided to do!
The first step was finding a location. Our front garden is bigger than our back garden – and so our dog spends more time out the front than she does anywhere else. So it couldn’t be somewhere that required people coming through the gate to access it. But luckily we have a perfect gap under our tree and without taking out any hedging or damaging plants, it became The Spot.
Then we had to find a way of creating the library. There are so many ideas online. Pinterest has a great selection of inspiration as well! Then there are libraries you can purchase already made (but in a time of global pandemic, we just don’t have the funds). So with the assistance of my Dad (socially distanced) a prototype out of wooden planks was created. We realised it was too heavy and would probably be restrictive in what we could fit inside once we plywood lined it. But it was a great starting point and my Dad has turned it into an owl nesting box! Whilst we pondered our options I browsed the marketplace on Facebook and found a wooden cabinet for sale that was literally just the next road along from where we live. We purchased it (£30), collected it and trialled it out in position…
So we had our library and we had someone to build it. The next challenges were how to make it Adult height rather than children (or dog peeing) height and stable. A neighbour donated some fence posts and William began construction. Due to the height we wanted the library, the platform it was screwed onto needed to be strong. We didn’t want to have to dig into the ground or anything like that. So four posts were cut to the right size, and braces put at the top and middle, to create this!
Painting was simple – fence paint and water proofing paint. And a bit of Silicone for sealing up as well. The back of the cabinet was the weakest part – just a flimsy board. It would also be the bit we would see from inside our front garden. So I stuck a few layers of paint on roughly to make it feel rustic but blended.
I also wanted it to have a window. As much as I loved the original cabinet, unless you’re on social media you would be unlikely to actually see what it contains and it might have deterred people from using it. So the panel at the front was pushed out (thanks Dad!) and then came the challenge of replacing it.
There are a few options – we tried the fake glass from picture frames but it shattered as soon as we tried to screw it on. There’s a nationwide and probably global shortage of plastic materials at the moment so actually finding something least of all it getting it cut to size was a challenge. Then, William realised that his workplace uses such materials and they found us an off cut and added some screw holes. It was perfect.
To protect the cabinet, we had half a tin of fence paint donated by a neighbour and covered most of it to give it a better colour. That was my job! We sealed all the joins with clear silicone to give it extra protection (one tube, £4.50) Then covered the whole cabinet in water sealant paint donated by my Dad. The door with its new window was reattached and the shelf put back in and that was it…. finished!
We put it in position on Friday evening and attached it to the stand with two long screws. The stand is also secured to the a fence post already in the ground as well. So it looks like it is just perched on the hedge which is disconcerting but very aesthetic!
Our first donation of books had already been received and within 5 minutes of it being in place someone had already come by and taken The Girl on the Train and returned later with a few more to put back in. This morning we’ve gone from our starting point of 7 books to many more and there has been regular traffic to and from the library since we announced it was there. Here’s the most recent collection of books that can be found amongst the leaves…
I’ve absolutely loved it – there’s something magical about a cabinet of books in amongst the trees – it feels like an Enid Blyton type book that needs to be written. I just had to strongly resist the book-lover urges to scoop them all up and add them to my To Be Read pile!