The Sheer Joy of Installing a Little Free Fibre Library

15 December 2021
By Kim Werker
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Last weekend, during a much appreciated break in the unrelenting rain of This West Coast Fall of 2021, neighbours I recently met parked out front and pulled out of their trunk a large cupboard painted just like my house. If I hadn’t been expecting them it might have been creepy. But I was expecting them, and what they were delivering was an object that had already inspired much shared joy.

My husband and I are DIYers. You probably are, too, since you’re reading this, so you get it. My husband and I each have our own deep interests, and we will occasionally cross the streams of those interests to do things like build a bookcase designed like a log cabin quilt, or come up with a kluge to get around a quirk of age on my new-to-me floor loom, or put in a tiled backsplash in an argyle pattern.

This Second Pandemic Fall, however, did not leave room in my husband’s mind for a project I decided it was time for. Why was this fall the time? Probably because This Apocalyptically Wet Second Pandemic Fall needed some unqualified joy.

I wanted to put a Little Free Fibre Library by the sidewalk in front of our house. It’d be like a Little Free Library for books, but for yarn/fabric/tools/patterns instead. I’d seen a bunch of posts about them popping up around the Vancouver area since last spring, and I just couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I wanted to tend to a tiny place where neighbours could find crafty treasures and leave treasures for others to find.

So I turned to my neighbourhood Buy Nothing group and asked if anyone was looking for a project. I didn’t think it would go anywhere.

Being wrong about it not going anywhere was the first bit of joy to come from this project. I heard immediately from a neighbour just a block away. She and her partner would love to make another little library after making one for their own house (for books) a year ago.

We entered the materials-sourcing stage of the project, and again we turned to our Buy Nothing group. We each had lots of wood to offer. Another neighbour gave us yet more wood, and another offered a piece of plexiglass so big I couldn’t fit it in our car, even though we named our car The TARDIS because it is bigger on the inside.

I did have to buy some paint—they designed the cupboard to match our house!—and the post to hold the library, and the concrete. But the rest came from us and our neighbours. Everyone was excited, because a Little Free Library isn’t for the person who hosts it; it’s for everyone.

Which brings me back to what my new friends pulled out of their trunk on the weekend, which we attached to the post we’d sunk in the yard. The vinyl lettering came from the owner of Baaad Anna’s Yarn Shop, who’s been championing the installation of Little Free Fibre Libraries around Metro Vancouver. She keeps a map of them all here. (Look for more on Little Free Fibre Libraries here in D&T in the new year!)

Image description: In the background, a turquoise and grey house with cream-coloured trim; in the foreground with lawn in between, three paving stones lead to a post atop which is a house-shaped cupboard painted like the house, with the words "Fibre Library" on the door.

Paula also gave me a box of yarn donations to seed the library (um, I also have yarn for this, naturally), and I’m now connected to a few other library stewards in the region.

The joy is real. The connections are real. Obviously I started an Instagram for the library, for I will always be a Gen Xer who has spent her entire life building community online, and I have already heard from folks who popped by the library. It’s downright delightful, and though Little Free Libraries have been around for a long time, I think they’re a perfect project for these times when the casual encounters we used to take for granted now feel like gifts.

We’ll host a launch party and yarn/fabric swap in the spring when it’s warmer and drier, and see if we can turn some of those casual encounters into neighbourly relationships built on a solid foundation of shared love of craft. I can’t wait.

Image description: A house-shaped cupboard has a glass door on which there are words, including "Fibre LIbrary, TAKE what you need, GIFT what you can."
Image description: Yarn, books and knitting needles arranged in a small cupboard sitting on a post on a grassy lawn.

All photos credit Kim Werker.

About Kim Werker

Kim Werker (she/her) is a co-founder and publisher at Digits & Threads and Nine Ten Publications. She has worked in the crafts industry in one way or another since 2004 as an editor, writer, instructor and speaker. She's authored six books about crochet and one about making ugly things on purpose as a creativity exercise. Kim lives in Vancouver, BC, with her husband and son, and their mutt who's named after a tree.

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