Friday, May 25, 2012

Little Free Library Up and Running

HARBESON: A handy little idea

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — After having worked hard the past few months, I now have something new to add to my resume — “I was Lead Project Manager for a major construction venture, supervising every aspect in the creation of a privately funded community building.”

I haven’t decided whether I should add that the building is about 2 foot wide and 2 foot tall.

The project I’m referring to is my own Little Free Library. I wrote last December about the idea — building tiny libraries as a fun way to support literacy and build community. I knew I had to have one.

But how? I knew little about building or woodworking. I needed to find someone to help me and the first person I thought of was Jim James. Jim is a relatively new acquaintance but through our interactions, I knew he was into woodworking.

I decided Jim would be the perfect person for the job because he didn’t know me well enough to realize how inept I am at anything crafty. He also didn’t know that I can cut my thumb just looking at a sharp blade.

So I contacted him to see if he would help me. I was clear that I didn’t want him to build it FOR me; I wanted him to build it WITH me. I hoped to learn by doing. Since he didn’t know what he was getting into, Jim agreed and I soon found myself in his workshop, an amazing place, loaded with every kind of machine imaginable with which to cut myself.

I learned a lot about Jim while we worked together on this Little Library. And he learned a lot about me — which is why we made a solemn blood-pact that we would never share those things with anyone. Ever. So don’t bother asking either of us for details.

(In hindsight, I am wondering now how our blood-pact will work since he convinced me we only needed to use my blood. It made sense at the time — there was plenty available.)

Somehow, despite my help, we managed to get the library ready for painting and other exterior work — a point where I drafted the help of family. My mom Rose Huber and my daughter, Melissa Weissinger (who also made the mistake of telling me how easy it was to dig a hole with a post-hole digger) helped paint.

My brother Gary Huber and his son Nick helped me put on the shingles. I struggled when I wanted to hammer in at least one nail, but the problem was my brother’s hammer. I think it was for right-handers and I’m a lefty.

My husband John helped me with final touches, which included attaching a piece of stainless steel  engraved “ Paul Huber Memorial,” because I built this library in my dad’s memory. He was a voracious reader just like me.

Within hours after installation, I glanced out my window and saw a woman and two children leaving with an Amelia Bedelia book I just placed inside. That was worth the blood, sweat and bruises.

This idea is spreading fast and I’ve met many people who are busy planning, building and decorating their own unique Little Free Libraries. The Jeffersonville Rotary Club recently awarded grants which were used to purchase two Little Libraries in memory of recently deceased members. Budget Printing Center, a local business in Jeffersonville, has graciously donated labels to attach inside the books to explain and promote the project.

To find out how you can build your very own, and/or share your talents with others who want one but need assistance in various areas such as construction, artwork, and installation, please join us at the next meeting of Little Free Library Indiana at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 29, at the Jeffersonville Red Cross Office, 1805 E. Eighth St.

You can also keep updated on this project at  littlefreelibraryindiana., which includes a link to a Facebook page. Join us and maybe soon you’ll have something new to add to your resume too.

 — Clark County resident Debbie Harbeson is into making blood pacts but she prefers using other people’s blood. Write to her at

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