Friday, June 9, 2017

Little Free Libraries begin!

Last night at the Central Library, we had around 30 teens show up for the first night of the Little Free Library Project. It was a jam-packed session--we discussed where our three libraries would be located in Burbank, and what impact that would have on their design and their contents.

Our first LFL will be located on the Chandler Bike Path, at the intersection of Buena Vista Street. We chose this location along the bike path because it's a major entry and exit point for the path, as well as having foot traffic along Buena Vista. Our primary users there will be bikers, walkers, runners, and dog-walkers, and since this is a recreational destination for families, there are quite a few children passing by. Our design group decided that children's books should be included, and that books for adults should primarily be paperback, since people on foot or on a bike don't want to be weighed down too much!

Our second LFL will be at the Metro Station on Front Street. There is a heavy flow of both train and bus commuters passing by this location, and the primary users will be adults going to their jobs (during the weekdays, 81 percent of train riders are commuting to work), so this location will mostly feature material for adults, both educational and recreational.

Our third LFL will be on Glenoaks @ Scott Road, which was singled out because there is a double bus stop there, and a small landscaped area perfect for containing the LFL. There is also some foot traffic from McCambridge Park, which is a few blocks away; there are many children in that neighborhood; and some traffic from schools. Since the ethnicity of bus riders in Los Angeles is diverse, we may include some books in other languages. We will include some children's books (although not as many as at the bike path), and other books of interest to all ages.

After we talked about the locations, we discussed possible themes. Then we brainstormed a bit, and then we sketched out some ideas. Once we were done sketching, we shared them and talked through how we could perhaps combine some with others, which ones worked best for what location, and how we would accomplish the effects we want. It was an intense almost three hours!

Everyone had wonderful ideas to express the appeals of reading:

PRELIMINARY THEMES:

  • Modes of transportation ("Books transport you")
  • Trees (tree of books with book fruit or book leaves, people sitting under trees reading)
  • Desert island with your favorite book, "reading under the sun"
  • Book covers in layers, or lined-up book spines, with book names on them, in various colors
  • Games and puzzles (puzzle pieces with children's book themes, game board like "Candyland," playing cards, checkerboard, etc.)
  • Garden theme ("Books help your mind grow") with various flowers
  • International languages ("read" in every language)
  • Book Salad (bowl with books, dressing of words pouring over)
  • Expanding connections (world, universe, diverse hands reaching inward towards book)
  • Mirror on the back to attract children
  • Oven theme with cupcakes, cookies, etc. ("good things await inside")
  • Fairy Tales
  • Map with various locations from fictional places (Hogwarts, Narnia, Oz, Baker Street, Gotham)
  • Signposts with various locations (see above)
  • Quotes (the power of words)

BORDERS:
  • hearts, flowers, and the word "read" repeated around the borders, or just repeating flowers
  • checkerboards (black and red or black and white), zig-zags (two color), stripes (alternating), plaid, or polka dots
  • puzzle pieces of various colors and shapes
  • ABCs
  • Twining vines with leaves (and flowers?),or simple curlicues
  • Words or quotes ("read" in multiple languages, quotes, commentary)
We talked through all these ideas and discussed what relation they had to the various locales and what would attract the eye and appeal to the particular people who would frequent that spot. Our (semi)final decisions were the following:

FOR CHANDLER BIKE PATH:
Genres on a map. We envision the whole box painted like a map (background color sepia/light brown/gold) with lines for roads and rivers and such (or maybe footprints, like on the "mischief managed" map in Harry Potter), leading to small illustrations such as: Castles and dragons (fairy tales), planets/space ships (science fiction), a detective with a spy glass (mystery), etc. One idea for the trim was to incorporate the multi-colored interlocking puzzle pieces with children's book titles on them.

FOR METRO STATION:
Modes of transportation: "Let a book transport you." A road will run all the way around the three sides. It might run just around the bottom, or it might bisect the sides diagonally. Some real modes (trains, buses, bikes, planes), some fanciful (hot air balloons, camels, flying carpets, hoverboards, elephants, alien spacecraft). The background will be pale blue. Something extra that everyone would like to add to this box is a signpost with signs pointing to various locations (Hogwarts, the Shire, Wonderland, Oz) that sticks up above the box. We will only do that if we can find someone who owns and knows how to use a jigsaw, to cut out the signs for us. This will probably happen after the fact.

FOR GLENOAKS BUS STOPS:
This one was inspired by this cartoon:


There will be a cross section of a bus continuing around all three sides (like you cut a bus in half lengthwise and were getting a sideways view), with passengers all gray and bored with their commute except for the READERS, who have words and images and colors exploding out of their minds because they are engaged with a book! There will be signs on the bus (where signs usually go, up above the passengers' heads) talking about the advantages of reading, or sharing reading quotes, etc. The background will be pale gray, with bright multicolored trim to reflect the bright colors emerging from the readers. The trim could be all one color, or a variety of colors for each piece, or we could incorporate some of our border ideas, like stripes, checkerboards, flowers, or words.

Alternatively, the bus could just wrap two sides, with the third side being given over to a sort of message board containing such flyers as "Have you seen this wizard?" with a mug shot, a request for a babysitter for children who have suffered "some unfortunate events," etc.

Great, creative ideas, everyone! Now we just have to find people both willing and capable of drawing all of this onto the LFLs!

Next week, we meet again on Tuesday to put a coat of primer paint (all one neutral color) on all of the individual pieces of the LFLs. We will continue refining our ideas at that session, to make sure we are all in consensus about what we're going to do. On Thursday, we will paint them with their final base (background) colors. On June 22, we assemble the LFLs, with the help of a couple of woodshop experts. And then we have a couple of sessions to decorate them with all the fabulous ideas!

We hope those of you who participated at our first session will keep coming back, and we invite others to join us. Just imagine how people will react when they see your beautiful Little Free Libraries out in Burbank, enticing them to take a book!


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