Free Libraries in Mr. V's Industrial Design Class

“I’ve wanted to build one of these at my house for a long time,” Mr. VeSeart gestured toward the “free libraries” that his Industrial Design class has been working on. He was inspired to incorporate this project into his curriculum after creating one of his own free libraries over summer break. 

“Free libraries” are small contained bookcases, typically found in front yards of homeowners in various neighborhoods. The trend for homeowners to install them has grown over the years and is meant to encourage reading by making books accessible to anyone. The premise of the library is that when people take a book, they put another book in its place. 

Mr. V built his own free library from scratch, decorated it with bottle caps and paint, and installed it in his front yard thinking it would be “sort of a social experiment.” He wanted to see if people would actually use it—or vandalize it. However, he has been pleasantly surprised that it hasn’t been tarnished, and people have been really utilizing it. “The baby books fly off the shelf,” said Mr. V. “I just love the kids in my neighborhood...when they come toting their moms along.” He added a stool when he noticed the children’s affinity towards his little library. “I love being the steward of it,” he said. “Books come and go all the time, and everyday there is something new.”

After his own experiment and a lot of interest from Bosque staffulty members on how they could get their hands on their own “free library,” Mr. V decided to bring the concept into his classroom. Each year, his students like to give back to the school through their industrial creations. Some of the projects the class has done in past years have included building the benches in the quad, assembling the golf cart shed, fixing the portable building with recycled lumber and wainscoting, and adding two additional benches to the middle school drop-off and pick-up areas. “After learning the tools, we always like to do something for the school,” said Mr. V. They like to take materials that might be considered “junk” and give them new life, in both a pragmatic and creative way. Last year, his class built 24 cutting boards from recycled lumber from the old bookshelves that were taken out of the Ford Library. The finished pieces were auctioned off and the proceeds went into the school’s Annual Fund. 

This semester, his Industrial Design class’ big project is building five “free libraries.” Right now, they’re all built, primer-coated, and ready for the doors to be put on and painted in Bosque School colors. Lola ‘22, a student in Mr. V’s Industrial Design class said her favorite part of the project was deciding the paints and designs for the libraries. “I was able to make the color palette and the design for it,” said Lola. “It’s been really fun.” In a couple of weeks, they will be finished and Mr. V plans to donate them “first-come, first-served” style to anyone who wants them within Bosque School’s staffulty community. “Five people can add them to their yards, and maybe kids in their neighborhood will be on the step stools looking for new books,” said Mr. V.