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Neighborhood lending library project - Mike Brady - 10-12-2021

I have volunteered to build a lending library for my neighborhood (Indiana weather).  I have looked at some too small and too poorly built ones, so we know what we don't want.  Repurposing small furniture pieces also seems like a waste of time. YouTube has many videos on the topic, so that is a place to start.

Have any of you built one and what do you recommend from the experience?  I was thinking of installing the post before winter so the library could be mounted as soon as it is done.  Any thoughts?


RE: Neighborhood lending library project - Cooler - 10-12-2021

The local Starbucks has a small free library of donated books.  It is a "leave a book, take a book" model.  No registration is required. Before the pandemic, it was a popular feature. 

I built the shelf unit for them.  I  wanted it to be durable so I made it from melamine-clad particleboard.  I used glued dadoes for all the joinery.  The construction has been sufficiently robust to withstand the daily abuse for the last five years. 

The melamine has taken a beating.  I added a PVC baseboard because they mopped several times daily and the moisture was playing havoc with the particleboard. 

The white melamine edgebanding also took a beating and I replaced it with oak iron-on edgebanding with a clear oil-based poly finish.  The jury is out on that option.  If I were starting over I probably would have edged all the stock with solid wood glued using tongue and groove joinery.

In a public setting, the abuse to the fixtures is impressive.  No amount of standard construction seems impervious.  The shelving I build originally would have lasted 50 years in a residential setting, but barely 5 years in a public setting.

Suggestion: 

1.  Use robust construction--more robust than the structure would normally call for.  As a rule, screws and pocket screws probably will not get the job done.  Dowels, and glued dadoes are probably better choices.  I also would not use biscuits, but it might be fine for some situations.

2.  Use the most durable finishes you can find.  That usually means oil-based poly in my opinion. 

Good luck.


RE: Neighborhood lending library project - Gary G™ - 10-12-2021

The one in our neighborhood is PT plywood with a river scene painted on it and then clearcoated

I wouldn’t overthink it


RE: Neighborhood lending library project - Admiral - 10-12-2021

My only thought is related to water intrusion and I'm sure you will deal with the roof and caulk the box seams, but suggest an exterior aluminum drip edge above the front door, and tube type weather stripping along the sides of the door.


RE: Neighborhood lending library project - fredhargis - 10-12-2021

This one was in the March 2016 issue of Wood magazine. Does it look like something that might work?
[attachment=38167]


RE: Neighborhood lending library project - Turner52 - 10-12-2021

I built something similar 4 years ago for my daughters church, only for free food not books. The style they wanted was t-111 and cedar. Said I would donate the materials and labor, but they had to mount and paint. it. The council members who picked it up and mounted it did not follow the plans they had given me for mountig. Totally did it wrong. Never finished it either. Northern Wisconsin weather. I should ask her, but I imagine it is trash by now. The council had a good idea and picked out the plan on the internet,but then did not follow it themselves. Too bad.


RE: Neighborhood lending library project - Mike Brady - 10-12-2021

The one in the photo looks like a nice example.  The faults Iv'e seen in some around here are: using antique clock cases or furniture, and making them too small (you need two shelves that hold hard-bound books). and using untreated instead of treated or weather resistent stock and poor weather sealing.


RE: Neighborhood lending library project - Admiral - 10-12-2021

(10-12-2021, 06:00 PM)Mike Brady Wrote: The one in the photo looks like a nice example.  The faults Iv'e seen in some around here are: using antique clock cases or furniture, and making them too small (you need two shelves that hold hard-bound books). and using untreated instead of treated or weather resistent stock and poor weather sealing.



RE: Neighborhood lending library project - Admiral - 10-12-2021

(10-12-2021, 06:00 PM)Mike Brady Wrote: The one in the photo looks like a nice example.  The faults Iv'e seen in some around here are: using antique clock cases or furniture, and making them too small (you need two shelves that hold hard-bound books). and using untreated instead of treated or weather resistent stock and poor weather sealing.

I'd make it larger than that, perhaps a bit wider, and with at least three shelves going down, and extend the roof overhang in the front to account for weather issues.  Admittedly, I may be overthinking this......


RE: Neighborhood lending library project - fredhargis - 10-13-2021

(10-12-2021, 06:44 PM)Admiral Wrote: I'd make it larger than that, perhaps a bit wider, and with at least three shelves going down, and extend the roof overhang in the front to account for weather issues.  Admittedly, I may be overthinking this......

On the size aspect, keep in mind that books can be very heavy, so if you go larger plan accordingly.