DIY Hanging Free Library

I’m a book nerd. I love to share. I want my mind to be lost between the pages on a daily basis. I want the world to join me.

There’s this little coffee shop that I frequent most mornings in Pittsburgh. It has a strong brew, quirky crowd and minimal modern décor. I get excited about it, mostly because of the “free library” that they set up inside. If you haven’t heard of one, let me fill you in.

The idea is simple: Take one, leave one. A book lover (like me) puts a box, crate, (or hanging library!) up in their front yard, at a coffee shop, on the porch, etc. and fills it with books. People are free to take a book home to enjoy, and keep the cause keepin’ on by bringing a book back in exchange.

I absolutely love this idea. It makes me the happiest little literary chick ever. It makes me so happy that I’ve lost track of whether I go to the coffee shop for caffeine or for a good read. You’d suppose I’d just go to the library, right? Nope. This is way cooler. It builds community, and makes reading exciting and personal. You never know what new book you are going to find, which helps open the mind to try new things.

This weekend, I built a hanging free library for my front yard. I bet you are shocked. It was so simple, and looks beautiful hanging from my front tree, for all of my neighbors and strangers to enjoy.

What You Need:
9 Branches
Twine, Yarn, Embroidery Floss
Copper String
A lil’ bit of patience



First, choose your five thickest branches for the base. Take copper wire, and begin wrapping the five branches together. This process is a bit tedious, but necessary. The copper wire is extremely strong, and will keep the base stable when heavy books are placed on top.lib4embroiderTake four branches and “tee-pee” tie them tightly. Attach their bottoms to the four corners of your base with wire. Wrap it tightly!lib12Once you have your structure built, begin decorating. This is the fun part. You can really use just about anything you want to make it your own. Above are some suggestions. I used feathers, doilies, and colorful string to make mine feel welcoming and bright.lib15Lastly, I braided together a rope that would hang the library to the tree, and also created a free library banner that would hang down one side, allowing friendly passersby to recognize its purpose.lib13Add some books to see how it works. I’d suggest doing this inside before taking it to the tree, so you can make adjustments. Once everything looks in place, it’s time to share your library with the world. Go hang it up!To add one more cool factor to my little library of love, I’ve started scribbling notes in each book and marking my favorite quotes to make the book feel personal. Mother Nature gave me the perfect tree for my book exchange, which is now open for free business.

*Final tip: take down if the forecast is calling for rain – soggy books aren’t happy books.

+What are some good reads for me to set up in my library? I’m always searching for something new. Let me know in the comments!

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8 years ago

This is gorgeous!

8 years ago

This is adorable! I love it.

8 years ago

This is so incredibly cute. Also, any John Green book is stellar. I am a YA book girl…I recommend the Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin. It’s amazing.

8 years ago

I love the idea of free libraries. My grandmother was a librarian and I grew up a book lover like you. Thank you for sharing this is adorable!

8 years ago

This is such a cute idea and a great way to build a sense of community where you live! I have heard of free libraries before but have yet to see one set up where I live. I’m excited to try this out sometime in the near future. Thanks for sharing!


8 years ago

that is amazing!!

8 years ago

I’ve been looking for a way to create a shelving unit in my space and this would work!

8 years ago

I absolutely love this project:) It is such an unique idea, I will definitely recreate it! have a lovely day, Sophia

8 years ago

That’s such a totally ADORABLE project….I also really really really love the idea of recycling books-i can do that with most books except for my absolute favorite ones…perhaps I’m a bit old fashioned but I don’t think anything can really beat reading a novel with real paper pages… I love to dog ear my favorite passages so that I can go back and read them over and over and over……Thank you for sharing your wonderful post….

The Weaver Of Words…..give me 15 words and I’ll tell you a tale

8 years ago

This is such a great idea + too cute, Madisyn! My husband and I just might start one in Squirell Hill!

8 years ago

Reminiscent of a good old work :-)

8 years ago

so i go by yer house rite now, there be books hanging up? lies.

8 years ago

awesome idea!! Free libraries are so important! we have quite a few in my town. :)

8 years ago

This is one of the most magical ideas I’ve heard of!
The two books I’m going to suggest are two of my all time favourites!
– The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. This book changed my life. It’s a story that made me appreciate many things in my life and one I couldn’t get off my mind. It’s also written beautifully and the book cover and the letters inside are beautiful and engaging.
– Hippies in the City by Rita Balshaw. This is a non fiction book and the perfect guide to living a happier and healthier life with the resources available to you. It’s great and the recipes, tips and tricks are amazing and I use them everyday.

8 years ago

Such a neat idea… Just wondering… one of the books is from Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and that’s where I grew up putting millions of books on hold as a kid. Did you get that book there or was it just passed along to you? :)