Building LFL's - Marketing - Candy - Boundaries - Shapes/Irony

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Building LFL's - Marketing - Candy - Boundaries - Shapes/Irony

1DennisKFehr
Redigerat: jul 18, 2016, 3:28 am

Hi, I am new to these threads and while I am still working on getting my home library into the librarything system I recently came across a LFL -- immediately I realized I needed one in my yard.

So... I've read the threads and began designing this but am having some issues I was hoping you all might be able to shed some light and expertise on. :) Please feel free to give some input on any or all of my questions, comments, or run-on thoughts haha.

1) I read through the "book crossing" site but it didn't seem to me that they had a system designed to inventory the books that were in and out of our LFL's. Is there such a system? I thought about mounting an iPad into the LFL and using LT's checkout features but I'm not sure how well that would work being I'd then have to have people setup in my LT with an account to checkout books - not to mention they may or may not be returned; either of which is fine, but not nessisarily the point behind a "checkout" feature as LT has defined it.

2) Likely due to a dangerous combination of "how to" books and ocd, I have almost finished my preliminary drafts of my home LFL where I'll be 3D rendering it in AutoCad Revit. Anticipating a digital checkout/inventory system, I've included a hidden locked area where the wifi router will sit, three shelves for books, and it's back side will feature an enclosed 25c candy machine for gumballs or something (note reference to q3). Herein lies the question, how far is to far for a LFL? What else may be a good addition to my LFL? I've considered adding an outlet for phone charging as I'll have a bench around a nearby tree and will need electricity for the inventory system anyways- does anyone think an outlet would allow for any other cool additions I've overlooked?

3) An insashble need to barter landed me the previously noted, single slot candy machine; which for all intensive purposes, I had absolutely no use for... until LFL's. Now I figure the 25c candies would make for a good marketing ploy while also bringing in revenue for maintainece and expansion of the lfl system. However, living in Wisconsin means half our year we're stuck in a frozen tundra and the other half, drowned in humidity. Not to mention the other two halves of the year, spring and fall, where weathermen just flip a coin on the morning news. Realistically, what candy is both delicious and has the integrity to withstand such harsh climate fluctuations?! I am afraid adding climate control to the lfl may be crossing a boundary of some kind (historically, I've always struggled to discern said boundaries).

4) Though I'm not sure I've hit rock bottom in my LFL construction obsession, I have realized through thorough investigation that most LFL's are in fact square. Contextually, I'm wondering if any other shapes would be more relatable... say an octahedron with a pointed top (like quartz crystals). Some noted downsides that come to mind are: an exponentially more complicated construction, more waisted area due to its hypothetical interior structure, and seemingly what could become an imbalanced proportion of house to LFL on my property. Obviously, upsides include a disassociation from squares and... hence my dilemma.

5) Not to question God's inherent attributes or badger anyone with biblical references, but through my readings I came to a realization: the first chapter of the bible is focused on creating cool things. Later chapters flood those cool things, which are only to be followed by chapters of better creations of different cooler things. Furthermore, the final chapter talks about starting the creation process of cool things from scratch yet again. My fear is that if God, infallible and all, found the idea of creating to be ultimately the most enjoyable aspect of the creation process, what are the chances that my LFL's implimentation will inevitably leave me with an iconically awesome LFL, but a lingering feeling of disenchantment? To "preemptive strike" this feeling and boost my LFL's utility (defined both in economic and common contexts), I considered adding a "mile marker" and map feature in some way, whereby people running or walking could use neighborhood LFL locations as measurement devices as well (not to mention making a water fountain addition useful). Has anyone else considered ways to make LFL's multipurpose?

So... If you have some ideas, questions, or comments id love to hear them!! :)

2Taphophile13
jul 18, 2016, 9:42 am

I suggest you first check local ordinances to make sure you have any necessary permits. Several LFLs have been shut down, at least temporarily, for noncompliance with local regulations.

https://littlefreelibrary.org/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Free_Library

Good luck with your endeavor.

3amysisson
jul 18, 2016, 9:52 am

Just a comment.... I enthusiastically support my closest LFL, restocking it regularly with children's books. So if I am ever in your neighborhood, I will make sure that you get to enjoy yours beyond the "creation" phase. Books make the world a better place. :-)

4DennisKFehr
jul 18, 2016, 9:57 am

Taphophile, thanks for the information! I have already looked through legislation applicable to my home LFL and shouldn't have a problem. On another similar note, I have prepared a petition for the city board to allow myself and hopeful lot some others to install select LFLs along bike trails on city property. That is one reason I was curious on the multifunctionality of LFL's. The city owns great LFL locations! Plus I figure that would make more people aware of LT and LFL's

5DennisKFehr
jul 18, 2016, 10:00 am

I could not agree more amysisson! :) I appreciate the support! We have many kids in our neighborhood to enjoy the books, and candy for those on the fence about it haha

6SqueakyChu
Redigerat: jul 18, 2016, 10:57 am

>1 DennisKFehr: I read through the "book crossing" site but it didn't seem to me that they had a system designed to inventory the books that were in and out of our LFL's. Is there such a system? I thought about mounting an iPad into the LFL and using LT's checkout features but I'm not sure how well that would work being I'd then have to have people setup in my LT with an account to checkout books - not to mention they may or may not be returned; either of which is fine, but not nessisarily the point behind a "checkout" feature as LT has defined it.

I have had my own Little Free Library for three years. It has been a total success (with the exception of minor vandalism on two Halloweens). I totally LOVE it. I'd be happy to share my experiences with you. I'll split my responses into several posts because the answer might be very long!

My Little Free Library of Twinbrook (#7720) is located in Rockville, Maryland, USA. It is also an OBCZ (Official BookCrossing Zone). BookCrossing does not inventory books but rather tracks books as they travel. I like to use it for my Little Free Library, but it will not give an accurate count of what is in and out of the LFL. I use it for the jounrla entries that follow each book.

Here's my LFL bookshelf on BookCrossing:
http://www.bookcrossing.com/hunt/1/21/10524/733341

Here's my personal bookshelf on BookCrossing:
http://www.bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/SqueakyChu/

Here is a book's journal entry. I am going to release this book into my Little Free Library this week.:
http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/7621715/

Do NOT put an ipad into your LFL. It will *definitely* be stolen.

My strong recommendation is to not have others "check out" books. When I encounter LFLs like that, I often avoid using them. That is because it sends a strong message that books MUST be returned. I like visitors to feel comfortable taking books without feeling that they MUST return them.

HOWEVER...an inventory of what is currently IN your Little Free Library is ALWAYS fun for you and others. Do THAT instead.

If you would like to inventory the books you do have on your LFL shelf, just use LibraryThing's cataloguing features since you are here already! You can create whatever categories you want.

Here's an example of a LFL which I have visited that uses the cataloguing system here on LibraryThing.
http://www.librarything.com/venue/85504/Little-Free-Library-of-Windsor-and-Dewit...

Here is that LFL's catalogue on LibraryThing:
http://www.librarything.com/catalog/LFLWindsorDewitt

7SqueakyChu
Redigerat: jul 18, 2016, 10:57 am

>1 DennisKFehr: Likely due to a dangerous combination of "how to" books and ocd, I have almost finished my preliminary drafts of my home LFL where I'll be 3D rendering it in AutoCad Revit. Anticipating a digital checkout/inventory system, I've included a hidden locked area where the wifi router will sit, three shelves for books, and it's back side will feature an enclosed 25c candy machine for gumballs or something (note reference to q3). Herein lies the question, how far is to far for a LFL? What else may be a good addition to my LFL? I've considered adding an outlet for phone charging as I'll have a bench around a nearby tree and will need electricity for the inventory system anyways- does anyone think an outlet would allow for any other cool additions I've overlooked?

Again...my recommendation is to skip the digital checkout for the reasons I mentioned above but to keep the inventory system. Wi fi is so cool! My own Little Free Library is an Ingress "portal" as well as a Pokémon GO "gym". Both are smart phone games for outdoor geoplay (Is there such a word? Ha!) so a phone-charging outlet would be so great for your visitors. That's brilliant as well as generous!

Be sure that your Little Free Library is not located on private property UNLESS it has clear public access. For example, mine is located on my front lawn, but it has a short flagstone path from the public sidewalk which "invites" passersby to visit it. Be sure it can be seen from a public thoroughfare. If not add a sign, showing where the Little Free Library is located.

In my Little Free Library, I offer homemade origami bookmarks as well as other bookmarks. I also have a Guest Book (which has "walked away" twice). I'm now on my third one.

Others offer dog treats, a hook on which to attach dog leashes, and water for dogs. Others offer other small or kid-friendly items such as stickers, seeds packets, pencils, etc. Do NOT put anything in your LFL that you do not want taken. Everything will disappear from it at one time or other.

The bench is an excellent idea. I have no room for a bench, but others use benches with great success!

8SqueakyChu
jul 18, 2016, 10:55 am

>1 DennisKFehr: An insashble need to barter landed me the previously noted, single slot candy machine; which for all intensive purposes, I had absolutely no use for... until LFL's. Now I figure the 25c candies would make for a good marketing ploy while also bringing in revenue for maintainece and expansion of the lfl system. However, living in Wisconsin means half our year we're stuck in a frozen tundra and the other half, drowned in humidity. Not to mention the other two halves of the year, spring and fall, where weathermen just flip a coin on the morning news. Realistically, what candy is both delicious and has the integrity to withstand such harsh climate fluctuations?! I am afraid adding climate control to the lfl may be crossing a boundary of some kind (historically, I've always struggled to discern said boundaries).

The candy idea might work for you but does not appeal to me. Here's why. Parents might want their kids to get books but might not want them to get candy. I've put candy in my LFL on Halloween, and it was all taken in one fell swoop! I can't see charging people for this privilege of books although I realize that no one MUST buy the candy.

If you go ahead with the candy machine idea (I must admit it's a cute idea), why not just use gumballs? I can't think of anything that can destroy them (except saliva and teeth!).

9SqueakyChu
Redigerat: jul 18, 2016, 10:57 am

>1 DennisKFehr: Though I'm not sure I've hit rock bottom in my LFL construction obsession, I have realized through thorough investigation that most LFL's are in fact square. Contextually, I'm wondering if any other shapes would be more relatable... say an octahedron with a pointed top (like quartz crystals). Some noted downsides that come to mind are: an exponentially more complicated construction, more waisted area due to its hypothetical interior structure, and seemingly what could become an imbalanced proportion of house to LFL on my property. Obviously, upsides include a disassociation from squares and... hence my dilemma

Go for originality! Make it whatever shape you want. The only requirement it needs is that there must be room inside of it for books.

10SqueakyChu
Redigerat: jul 18, 2016, 11:08 am

>1 DennisKFehr: Not to question God's inherent attributes or badger anyone with biblical references, but through my readings I came to a realization: the first chapter of the bible is focused on creating cool things. Later chapters flood those cool things, which are only to be followed by chapters of better creations of different cooler things. Furthermore, the final chapter talks about starting the creation process of cool things from scratch yet again. My fear is that if God, infallible and all, found the idea of creating to be ultimately the most enjoyable aspect of the creation process, what are the chances that my LFL's implimentation will inevitably leave me with an iconically awesome LFL, but a lingering feeling of disenchantment? To "preemptive strike" this feeling and boost my LFL's utility (defined both in economic and common contexts), I considered adding a "mile marker" and map feature in some way, whereby people running or walking could use neighborhood LFL locations as measurement devices as well (not to mention making a water fountain addition useful). Has anyone else considered ways to make LFL's multipurpose?

There are many things you can do to keep up the "fun" of your Little Free Library. Here are some suggestions:

1. Make a Facebook page for your Little Free Library.
2. Join the Little Free Library stewards groups at littlefreelibrary.org after you get your charter number.
3. Request that your LFL become a PokeStop for PokemonGo
https://support.pokemongo.nianticlabs.com/hc/en-us/requests/new
4. Make it into a geocache.
https://www.geocaching.com/play
5. A water fountain might be useful since you have runners going by your location and you love to create things.
6. Have birthday parties or other holiday celebrations at your LFL location.

P.S. I love your biblical reference for this question. :)

11SqueakyChu
Redigerat: jul 18, 2016, 11:11 am

>1 DennisKFehr: So... If you have some ideas, questions, or comments id love to hear them!!

I've already given you quite a few, but please let me know if you have more questions. Best of luck on this endeavor. I think it's great!

P.S. I hope I haven't blown you away by my long answers. As you can see, I'm very enthusiastic about Little Free Libraries (as well as BookCrossing and LibraryThing). :D

12DennisKFehr
Redigerat: aug 2, 2016, 2:51 am

>6 SqueakyChu: I really appreciate the detailed and lengthy responses SqueakyChu! I am by no means blown away by them, quite the opposite actually! :) Sorry for the delay on my end, I run a painting company and this summer has been insanely busy with the weather and customers haha. I'm going to reply to each of your 'replies individually for the same reasons you mentioned.

So, I looked at the Twinbrook LFL and did some research on catalogueing in the LFL system and I found that although I do like the cataloguing system I would still very much like a way to automatically inventory the books. Mainly, if all goes well my plan is to convince the city to allow me to build a network of LFL's on city land following bike trails, parks, other areas. Any LFL's that may not be as close to me, I'd like to know when books are being taken or left so I can keep the LFL's full. My other reason would be that I am a sucker for statistics, and a digital inventory system is not only more efficient but says stats all over it. I love the fact that Librarything has so many stats on our library's and books and would like to be able to gather the information and statistics that a digital system offers. However, I agree that iPads are apt to "walk away." To counter this, do you think if it was mounted with a similar chord that the phone companies use in their stores on the demo models may work? I've also considered building it into the LFL in a way that would allow it to fold out of the LFL near the door (it would be enclosed into a wood shelf). My last idea was to use something like the "tinycat" librarthing offers where the iPad or other tablet wouldn't be seen directly. That would be less valuable and likely to be stolen but I haven't used Tinycat yet so I don't know a whole lot about it either.

As of yet, those are my best brainstorming ideas on how to make digital possible haha.

13DennisKFehr
aug 2, 2016, 2:54 am

>7 SqueakyChu: I will definitely plan on addin the Wifi and an outlet then. In addition, I have designed a sitting area with a path and stuff so people know they are supposed to sit and use it haha. Great suggestion!

14DennisKFehr
aug 2, 2016, 3:06 am

>8 SqueakyChu: I debated for a long time about the candy machine for the same reason, I'd hate to have kids turned away by their parents to avoid a battle over candies but after some mild polling I decided it would would be worth it.

The money aspect I figured on putting toward building more LFL's ain't bike trails and stuff as I mentioned. Plus, I know I've put into the Librarything a few LFL's that were NOT in their system. I'm sure there are many people who do not know of it so I though about designing clever bumper stickers, business cards, or something that could be taken by people and given to their friends or family who may also know of an LFL that should be put into Librarything and the owner contacted with some info on it. I was surprised to find so many that are not officially in Librarything and think the money would be well spent promoting LFL's and Librarything. If you have any suggestions on ways to do that I would love to hear those also!

Ps The marketing and efficiency aspect of running businesses are some of the things I enjoy most about running my businesses so it's hard for me to not look at that in this situation haha

15DennisKFehr
aug 2, 2016, 3:12 am

>9 SqueakyChu: In order to move into the construction phase I'm thinking of putting up a temporary "ordinary" shaped LFL until I have the final revisions of my unique one finished. I'm leaning to a crystal shaped one but haven't worked out some of the kinks with the doors and *pending* digital system :D

16DennisKFehr
aug 2, 2016, 3:33 am

>10 SqueakyChu: I'm glad you liked my biblical references haha :)

As far as keeping the fun goes, since reading your post I've tried submitting a request to be a pokegym but to no avail. Any suggestions on that? I followed your link but didn't see a request for it --- seems like a bigger mystery than charzards location...

2) I haven't looked at doing the Ingress one yet but the game preview seemed awesome so I'm going to try to do that also!

3) I am working on a map within the "Map my Run" app that goes between all our local LFL's. I think that will be neat once it's completed.

4) Your Geocashe idea is EPIC! I've begun thinking up ways to integrate a key into a book that would unlock a box or storage container. Im thinking of inserting magnets into a book cover that would then need to be set down in a specific orientation (like matching two sets of compasses together) to unlock the container benieth it.

5) Once I get a charter number I'll try to get into the Stewart's group also. How do you get a charter number anyways?

6) Watsr fountains, facebooks, and birthday parties can all come with time (or my slow season) haha.

17DennisKFehr
aug 2, 2016, 3:38 am

>11 SqueakyChu:. Thank you again for you ideas and help! I am really excited to get it operational! I have a ton of books I haven't put into my Librarything yet and I'd like to get my duplicates in there to get started :)

18SqueakyChu
aug 2, 2016, 5:41 pm

>12 DennisKFehr:. I am totally leery of anything that can be stolen from a Little Free Library. I have had three Guest Books taken which all were labeled not to remove. I have had a hand blown pottery mug taken which I had used to hold bookmarks. I have seen some instances of other LFLs marred by vandalism such as fire, graffiti, or taking of entire inventory and even of complete LFL units taken. I stand by my opinion of not using anything that can be removed or stolen.

19SqueakyChu
Redigerat: aug 2, 2016, 6:04 pm

>13 DennisKFehr: Sitting areas are so inviting. I love those!

20SqueakyChu
aug 2, 2016, 5:53 pm

>14 DennisKFehr: I gave up adding all LFLs to LT. That was Tim's project at one time, and he quit doing that. Now it seems that LFL does not want others scraping their information although their system is not easy to use for making a list of nearby LFLs.

Any marketing is great. I do use business cards and a Facebook page, but I don't advertise too widely as I don't want to invite vandalism. Others host "events" at their LFLs. I don't, but those could be fun.

21SqueakyChu
aug 2, 2016, 5:55 pm

>15 DennisKFehr: A temporary LFL sounds great to me be because the fun of it starts as soon as you get it up!

22SqueakyChu
Redigerat: aug 2, 2016, 6:06 pm

>16 DennisKFehr:

1. it might be that Niantic might not be taking new requests for Pokestops or gyms now. Try again at a later date.

2. I don't think Ingress is accepting requests for new portals any more, but I might be wrong.

3. That sounds pretty cool!

4. Good luck with geocaching. Those folks seem to value creativity a lot.

5. Erect your LFL, and spply for your charter number via the littlefreelibrary.org website.

Have fun!

232wonderY
Redigerat: sep 16, 2020, 8:04 am

Hi people!

I've been wanting to establish my own LFL; and circumstances have finally come together.

I've been weeding like mad this past year, knowing a move would be happening. At one point this spring, my front door area had a barricade of more than a dozen boxes until I twisted the arm of the local library to open and accept the collection for their annual sale.

My old neighborhood would not have been a good place for a LFL. My new neighborhood is in a small college town with lots of foot traffic.

As my weeding continues, I brought one box of discards and put some out yesterday in a temporary box to test the waters.



It's sitting on the remnant of a kneewall adjacent to the public sidewalk. Not the best situation, though the glass allows visibility from above. Will add a plastic flap over the front for protection from rain.

The community has a tradition of placing unwanted items on the curb for anyone to take. There is a toaster up the street a bit.

24WholeHouseLibrary
sep 16, 2020, 2:41 pm


From the Geocaching guidelines:
Don’t put food or scented items in your cache
Items like chewing gum, candles, air fresheners, and the like can attract animals that may chew the container and get sick.

(Me talking here): I am dismayed at the number of times I've found candy (and/or melted crayons -- here in Texas) in geocaches. Sometimes, it's the cache owner (CO) who does it; other times, it's a finder who wants to leave a little swag. Regardless, the caches get chewed up (as mentioned above), or moisture/humidity gets in and melts the candy -- even in sealed wrappers -- or becomes infested with ants. It's just a losing situation, and I strongly recommend against it.