The Making of a Little Free Library

| By: Nathan Sprehe
Nathan Sprehe

As part of this year’s St. Louis Design Week, Space Architecture hosted their annual Little Free Library competition, a worthwhile event that brings together teams of creative people to construct small, curbside book exchanges to be placed throughout the local community. There are now nearly 40,000 of these little guys around the world—pretty cool!

Our team was taken with the Little Free Library’s mission: “To promote literacy and the love of reading…and to build a sense of community.” The libraries are meant to spark curiosity, so we ultimately focused in on the concept of exploration. Nothing better summarizes the idea of exploration and discovery like the infinite possibilities of space, thus the idea for a planet was born! Not to mention we have a thing for globes.

We started with a miraculous find: two aluminum industrial light fixture shades under a pile of ivy behind a quonset hut in the back of Shapiro Supply. Sam Shapiro donated the shades because they were “for the children” (Thanks Sam!). We cut a porthole in the side of one shade and built a floor with the post mounting attachment in the other. The shades were already dented but we further beat them up and fabricated craters using recycled solo cups, cut down and fiberglassed. After securing the two halves together, we covered the exterior with vintage book pages and multiple coats of sealer.

We hope the unconventional shape will grab the attention of the busy passerby, both young and old, and encourage a small but meaningful diversion.

Check out the images below, or hop over to Facebook to see the whole set. Thanks Space! We’re looking forward to next year’s competition.


Behold! Like a lake in the middle of a desert, these industrial lamp shades beckoned us closer.


Looks good in the office.


Randy turns the shell into the Death Star.


Natalie, Emily and Katie break out the Mod Podge.


Podge applied and ready for the final finish.