Local artist designs, maintains free mini library for all to enjoy
Feb 01, 2018 10:00AM
By Keyra Kristoffersen
Heidi Evans hopes to spread the joy of reading throughout her neighborhood. (Photo/Heidi Evans)
With 200 pounds of concrete, some lumber and 400 cat food cans, Heidi Evans spent the last year designing and creating a mini library that now resides in front of her West Valley home.
“It’s basically a neighborhood free book exchange,” Evans said. “It’s really informal, ‘take a book, leave a book’ is the slogan.”
This new free little library on Burkman Way near Hunter High in West Valley City offers books for exchange to anyone interested in reading new material. Completed just prior to Christmas, Evans stocks her library with science fiction and fantasy novels as well as a few history novels from her own collection that she obtained at library book sales, yard sales and from used book stores.
“At this point, it’s mostly things that I read, and I would love for it to become an exchange primarily for people that like the same things I like, but I’m more than willing to welcome people who just like books in general,” she said.
Evans grew up the daughter of an advertising artist father who taught her drawing before other activities and she’s carried on that love of art. Though she works in medical billing, Evans has spent her life creating works in watercolor, polymer clay sculpture, crochet, and silver- and copper-smithing using found objects and recycled materials. Just prior to beginning the mini library that had interested her for so long (but wasn’t possible at her previous residence), she began learning the art of woodworking, building a bathroom cabinet after not finding one that she liked in home improvement stores.
With her background in art and access to the resources through Littlefreelibrary.org, Evans started her project. Little Free Library, a non-profit organization that registers mini libraries around the United States, has been honored by the Library of Congress, the National Book Foundation, and the American Library Association. With the growing boom in mini free libraries around the world, the organization seeks to inspire a love of reading, build community, and foster neighborhood book exchanges, particularly in areas where books can be scarce, according to their website, which offers maps of existing libraries, resources for library stewards and instructions for building and maintaining library hutches.
“I was at a loss for a while,” Evans said. “Luckily, when you register your library, they give you access to Facebook groups that are specific to other stewards of libraries.”
Evans got in touch with another library steward in Sugar House who volunteered her husband to help Evans move the pieces and set the concrete. After watching a YouTube video about a man who shingled his garden shed roof with used beer cans, Evans created a dragon scale design for the outside of her library using cat food cans she collected thanks to her cat, Tenten, who, due to age and kidney disease, must be fed a special diet. This project has been entirely funded by Evans, though there are deals and help through the Little Free Library organization.
Several of Evans’ neighbors have checked out the library and taken pictures. She’s glad for the support because there is a possible correlation between neighborhoods that have free mini libraries and an influx in people wanting to move in. Evans is already looking forward to warmer weather so she can plant succulents around the library and improve the landscaping with a rock garden.
For information little free libraries, visit: https://littlefreelibrary.org/