Our Little Free Library: A Q&A with Liz, Steve, and KerryPosted: Friday, June 15, 2018
Yesterday, the UBC Press offices got a new addition—a Little Free Library, an adorable replica of Ponderosa Annex B, our home at the University of British Columbia. To learn more about it, I chatted with the group behind the project: Liz Hudson, Steve Young, and Kerry Kilmartin.
Why did you decide to create a Little Free Library for UBC Press?
LH: Last October, we saw an email about University of Illinois Press requesting books for their Little Free Library. Some of us started to banter about getting a little library as a mini version of our office, Ponderosa B—complete with mini rodents.* Kerry was part of the banter and volunteered the information that Steve’s brother, Ray, was a master carpenter and could do the work. Less than a month after those initial emails, I saw a UTown@UBC grant that was available for anyone looking to build community in the university neighbourhood. I decided that I would apply for a grant to build a Little Free Library which would build a community of readers outside of our office.
*Editor’s Note: The UBC Press office has had its share of unwanted occupants of the furry variety, including a deceased skunk and what was likely the largest rat caught on the UBC campus.
How did the Little Free Library come to be?
LH: On November 6th, we got the grant to build our Little Free Library. The money hinged on acquiring a Street Landscape Permit through Campus Community Planning. After many emails, phone calls and general persistence, we secured the permit. In a fortuitous turn of events, an exterior wall of our building was being repaired and there was some leftover wood. I got in touch with the carpenters doing the work and asked if they would give us some leftover wood for the construction of the Little Free Library. As the saying goes, “You don’t get if you don’t ask.” About a month later, the carpenters dropped off some cedar siding that was left over from the outdoor construction. Steve passed the wood along to his brother who then began work on the Ponderosa B Little Free Library.
Can you tell me about the design and building process?
SY: Right from the outset, there was no question that the design of the Little Free Library would replicate that of the beloved Ponderosa Annex B, the site of the UBC Press office. The size of the library would approximate one that Ray had produced previously – roughly a two foot cube, thus ensuring that the interior space would permit storage of up to 40 books of various shapes and sizes. There were inherent challenges associated with the shape of the Press building – its façade was more ‘landscape’ than ‘portrait’ while the library was cube-like, and its flat roof structure necessitated a change to an incline to ensure sufficient drainage. The outer enclosure needed to be waterproof, but the availability of exterior cedar siding meant the library could maintain the look of its older sibling, and the cedar was lighter and more weather-resistant than other types of wood. A major construction issue pertained to the door of the library, which consisted of the replicated actual doors, surrounding side and top windows, and side beams and exterior walls. This resulted in the use of four pieces of wood for the door that had differing perimeter heights along the top and bottom, and differing perimeter widths along the sides. Finally, the door trim and signage decals needed to be waterproof and adhere to wood surfaces. Decal images were taken from photos, reproduced onto plastic sheets, and varnished.
What can the UBC community expect to see from (or in!) the Little Library?
LH: I foresee keeping the Little Free Library full of interesting books. At UBC Press, we have a lot of readers, so I don’t expect there to be a shortage of books to fill its shelves. We could also decorate the outside of the Little Library with the seasons: twinkling white lights at Christmas, miniature pumpkins for Halloween, maybe we could plant some spring bulbs for spring. I think it’s going to be a social media darling.
Thank you to UTown@UBC for the funding for this project. To learn more about UTown and Community Development at UBC, visit their website. Thank you to Ray Young for the amazing design and construction of the little library. You can see more of his work at iusedtobeapallet.com.
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