Little Free Libraries

I have long dreamt of creating a Little Free Library for the community to enjoy and am pleased to say I have finally got round to it! Welcome to The Heart of Newhaven Little Free Library 1 & 2…

I love the whole concept of a free to access little library for secondhand books – there’s the magic of seeking them out, rummaging through to find my next read and having somewhere to share my finished books in the knowledge that they will go on to be enjoyed by others.

I spend lots of time with my daughter at the children’s Little Free Library at our local park, swapping books and reading al fresco, it has brought us so much joy! I am super excited to now have two Little Free Libraries at The Heart of Newhaven in Edinburgh, which is also where I have my studio, they feel like the perfect fit for this community space and selfishly offer somewhere for me to donate my ever growing collection of books, find new ones and read with my book loving little girl!

Creating these Little Free Libraries (one for youngsters and one for adults) has been a real team effort – members of Leith Men’s Shed helped me build the two structures using second hand materials and offcuts and local resident Shona Littlejohn kindly donated money to cover the materials for decorating them.

For the children’s Little Free Library I went with a black and white theme – painting it in blackboard paint and using white Posca pens to add the design. Susan Thomson, who I got to know via my bookbinding classes many moons ago, helped me get started and come up with the idea of a botanical themed fantastical house worthy of a story book. I then went on to complete the design, working in the words ‘Books Are Magic’ because, well they just are aren’t they!

In an attempt to create a suitable backdrop for the Little Free Library, I recruited the help of fellow Heart of Newhaven residents Sheila, Neil and Rob, along with neighbour Ann, who helped me paint a mural featuring patterned trees. My hope is that this will be a welcoming space for people to sit and read – there really is something lovely about reading in the open air and as this is under shelter it will even be possible to read in the rain!

I took a slightly different approach with the adult Little Free Library, working with Community Garden Coordinator Hayley and voluteer Judy to take pressings of leaves from the garden, which were then printed onto acetate and exposed onto screens with the help of Lorna from INK on MESH, before being screen printed onto the box. I chose to include the popular quote ‘By leaves we live’ which is part of an excerpt by Sir Patrick Geddes, written in 1927 –

“By leaves we live. Some people have strange ideas that they live by money. They think energy is generated by the circulation of coins. Whereas the world is mainly a leaf-colony, growing on and forming a leafy soil, not a mere mineral mass: and we live not by the jingling of coins, but by the fullness of our harvests.”

I love that the word ‘leaves’ can be used to describe both the anatomy of a plant and the pages of a book – this further inspired me to plant up a green roof on the library structure so that it can grow and become part of the garden at The Heart of Newhaven, supporting local wildlife as well as the community with it’s leaves!

This project was done in my voluntary time and while for now I must get back to earning a living with my bookbinding, I don’t want it to end there! I am currently working on a series of screen prints which feature my Little Free Library designs. The plan is to turn these into a limited edition of A4 prints, postcards and bookmarks to sell, with a percentage of each sale going towards a series of community workshops/events linked to the Little Free Libraries. More info on these prints will be available soon, if you would like to be notified when they go on sale, please email me at

A huge thank you to everyone involved – this is a project that I am really proud of and that I hope will lead to many booky happenings at The Heart of Newhaven.

What is a Little Free Library?

A Little Free Library is a free book exchange where anyone can take a book or leave a book. It’s a community-driven initiative to promote literacy and the love of reading.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minnesota, who’s mission is to be a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Library book-exchange boxes.

Their vision is for a Little Free Library in every community and a book for every reader., underpinned by a believe all people are empowered when the opportunity to discover a personally relevant book to read is not limited by time, space, or privilege.

The Little Free Library Network currently includes over 175,000 Little Free Libraries in 121 countries! Find out more, locate a Little Free Library near you and/or get some help setting up your own here.

How to use our Little Free Library…

Find a Book: Take any book that catches your eye.

Leave a Book: share a book by placing it in the library for others to enjoy.

Spread the Word: Tell your friends and neighbours to help grow our reading community.

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