This is one of Rev. Emily Meyer’s favorite community-building and community-bonding projects – especially poignant for People of the Word.
Build a Little Free Library – or several – as a community project:
Invite all generations – whether members or not – to participate in the build: elders can share skills, knowledge, tools, and direction. Younger folks can learn how to use power tools, explore the artistry and craft of building, and take pride in creating something for their congregation, community, or their own home. Littles can design, decorate, and embellish with aplomb and abandon!
Invite your community to participate in building more than one Little Free Library:
- Ask a local hardware store and/or lumber yard to loan equipment (maybe you’ve got a local tool lending library?!?) and supplies.
- Invite local artists or architects to submit designs.
- Encourage local crafters to share odds and ends to embellish and decorate.
- Ask a local printer to create stickers or other attachable emblems with your congregation’s name, logo, contact info, and physical and online addresses to adhere to every library.
- Encourage community members and the local library or school to make book donations to jump-start sharing.
- Encourage a local librarian or teacher to be present at the event to help curate book donations, breaking them into age-appropriate piles, subject matter, etc. – however folks want to share books in their own libraries.
- Publicize the names of supporting businesses and individuals in gratitude throughout your worship and news online and print media in preparation, during, and following the event.
Build one library for your congregational grounds. Build additional libraries for folks to place in their own front yards or near rural mailboxes. Build a library for any of your supporting businesses to place at their own front doors. Offer additional libraries to visitors, guests, or neighbors. Adhere decals with your congregation’s information (see above) to each library before it leaves the build site.
Offer small stacks of donated books to each person/family that takes home a library, just to get them started.
Conclude the build time with a prayer of thanksgiving for all who offered their skills, time, materials, and creativity to the process and a blessing for every library, that it might share words of wisdom, joy, hope and healing; that the libraries collectively might contribute to the well-being of the community; and that as books are shared the community’s sense of interconnectedness might grow.
Add on: Create a community event that let’s people know what Little Free Libraries are (you might also print out this info to include as a post within each Library) and how sharing happens – another chance to create community, endorse your supporters, spread the word, and diversify lending materials!
Add on+: share books for all ages for current book studies and groups. It’s a great way to let the broader community know what you are discussing and doing, and a superb way to invite community participation!
Covid-19 considerations: Hold the build out-of-doors or in a large, well-ventilated / open barn or warehouse and use stations, so folks can interact at-a-distance, but work together on the community project.