Ron Smith is the steward of Little Free Library #16209 in St. Clair, Michigan. Here he’ll share how he started his Library for about $60 total, how he found out about geocaching and his tips for running a successful Library.

Ron Smith's Library #16209 in St. Clair, Michigan.

Ron Smith’s Library #16209 in St. Clair, Michigan.

How did you find out about Little Free Libraries?

My Little Free Library story begins on Twitter, where I like to follow a few of my favorite authors. One day a picture was posted on an author’s Twitter page of a Little Free Library that contained one of his books. I thought, “Little Free Library, what the heck is that?” I immediately became intrigued and excited to learn more.

How did you build your Library?

I planned what the layout of my LFL would be by looking at a lot of photos and some of the plans on littlefreelibrary.org. (Tip: check out thousands of photos on Instagram, Flickr and Pinterest. Plans are available here.)

I looked for something to re-purpose before buying anything. (Tip: try Habitat for Humanity Re-Stores, St. Vincent De Paul, Goodwill, Ebay, or other antique shops when looking for an item to turn into a Library.)

My LFL was a wooden bookshelf that my dad and I cut up, trying to follow the design I had chosen. I think I spent about 60 dollars total.

The book shelf was 5 bucks and the rest of the costs were paint and hardware. I actually got my post for free. My shingles are a bundle of cedar shims.

What are the do’s and don’ts of starting a Library?

Do: Browse photos online to help understand what the LFL was all about. Check out the plans at littlefreelibrary.org.

Do: Create a Facebook page. Posting about your LFL on your community Facebook page helps create interest. Here is the 3rd Street Library Facebook page.

What has the upkeep been like? Are there any resources that help you steward your Library?

I opened the Library and immediately received a positive response from neighbors and people driving by. Becoming a member of the Mightybell community and the Little Free Library Steward’s Facebook group has been very rewarding. I feel honored to be included in the growing community of stewards sharing and collaborating ideas and activities.

It was through the Facebook group that I had another “What the heck is that” moment. This time it was geocaching. Again, I was intrigued and excited to learn about something new. Since then, I have hidden a geocache in my LFL, and have begun geocaching myself. (Tip: Ron later created this video explaining what geocaches are and how to start one in your Library.  This video by a fellow geocacher is a great resource, too!).

Being a Steward has been very rewarding for me. When I see a car stop at the curb and a boy or girl jump out and go to the LFL to swap or grab a book, I know everything is worth the effort and time.

What kind of books do you stock and how do you get the books?

I started out by going to book sales (e.g. public libraries, friends of library groups and book stores have periodic book sales) and getting books for a buck or so. I keep novels for adults, chapter books for teens and emerging readers, as well as picture books for the littler kids. There is a small shelf where I keep a basket of bookmarks and a guest log.

Read more Steward Stories here.

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