Customize Your Library with a DIY Book Cover Roof

By Sarah Nelson

Steward Lisa Stringfellow recently shared the book cover roof she created for her Little Free Library, and we’re so excited that she has provided the step-by-step instructions for fellow stewards. Read Lisa’s guest post below to learn how to create your own book cover Little Free Library roof!

One of the best features of the Little Free Kidlit Library is the cool book cover roof. When the library opened in April of 2021, the roof was covered with 2 x 3 wood tiles that I had painted black and decoupaged with mini-versions of almost 100 covers of early reader, middle grade, and YA books. It was a lovely mix of some of my favorites, like Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and One Crazy Summer, and new releases (as of 2021) such as From the Desk of Zoe Washington and The Bridge Home. I detailed this process in a blog post last year.

Despite coating the tiles in resin and lacquer, water and sun exacted a hard toll on those small wooden shingles. They started to fade within a few months and once the rain, snow, and cold of the fall and winter came, the resin began to crack and water damage ruined their appearance.

So I rethought the design. I removed the wooden shingles and considered other materials. PVC came to mind but I couldn’t find a supplier of tile size pieces. I realized that if I left the PVC sheet whole, I could apply vinyl stickers to the board. It would be SO much easier to remove them in the future to keep the stickers looking new and to swap out titles as new books are released.

I measured the library and purchased two 11 x 17 PVC sheets that cover each side of the roof. Vinyl stickers are durable, water-resistant and weatherproof, so I ordered 8 ½ x 11 blank sheets on which I could print the covers I would choose. I downloaded high resolution images of all of the titles I wanted, a few from my original roof and some new ones. Since I am a debut author, it was fun including my own book in the collage. I also included many of the new middle grade and YA books released by debut BIPOC authors this year. I know many of the authors through my debut group and it was enjoyable adding their books to the new roof.

Once I downloaded the covers, a bit of math told me they needed to be 2.75 inches tall to fit four rows of books. I used Google Slides to import and size the covers on printable 8 ½ x 11 pages, perfect for the labels I had purchased. All in all, I printed about 10 sheets, or almost 90 covers. I cut out each cover individually and applied them one row by row, trying to arrange the covers colors in eye-catching ways.

Once the boards were completely covered, I used a fast drying exterior wood glue to attach them to the library roof and lightly sprayed the stickers with an exterior lacquer for good measure. Voila!

I’m so happy with how the new roof turned out and am excited that I’ll have an opportunity to easily refresh it again next year with new book covers.

Are you ready to bring a Little Free Library to your neighborhood? Learn how to start a library or check out these free plans and blueprints!

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