Furniture/Cabinet Making

Street Library – A Community Project

By Philip Hirshbein

What is a Street Library?

“Street Libraries are beautiful homes for books, planted in your front yard. They invite your neighbours to share the joys of reading, donating and recycling books, creating lasting connections inside your community. There are over 500 Street Libraries in Australia!”

To source Street Library locations across Sydney and find out more about the project and visit

The Shed was approached by Mrs. Koran Larkin from Hornsby Heights, late last year who asked us to build one for her and her five children and offered to pay the costs. She provided pictures of some local to her. I said that it would be more economical to build one out of recycled materials donated to the Shed. I selected 9mm ply that was 800mm square because we had lots on hand. I planned to make it a cube but when she came to the Shed (with three of her children) to meet us, we decided a depth of 500mm was more appropriate.

picking up supplies at bunnings

I listed the other materials that were needed to complete the job, including cladding to waterproof the ply and thought of asking Dural Bunnings to help sponsor the project. I had to formally write to Brooke Langford, Activities Organiser, on behalf of the Shed and stress that it was a community project. That worked – she supplied mini orb polycarbonate for the cladding, an acrylic sheet for the door, brass piano hinge, various screws, chain etc. all at no cost. Robert Evans and I picked them up from Brooke on 1 February.



street library roof
Robert and Philip constructing the roof.

using a hand sawWe had a problem making the second cut for the acrylic doors because it was too wide for the bandsaw. The photo at left of Peter Whitten shows how a craftsman does it, with a hand saw.
Framing the acrylic doors made them easier to hinge and formed part of the varnished timber design on the front.

I took the library home to work on it and paint it with primer/sealer as a base for decoration by the family. It took another three weeks and a lot of detailed work to get it to the stage where it was ready for delivery.

See below for exterior and interior views. I was very happy to have got to that stage because delivery to the family at Hornsby Heights had been arranged for Friday 2 March.
I packed the library in the car (for ease of transportation the roof had not been attached) and all the tools and materials I thought that I might need and headed off via Galston Gorge to Hornsby Heights. Apart from delivery, I had to finalise the location of the library.

An ideal location was found, on a tree in the front garden at the side of the driveway. I installed one batten, to show the location of the base. The next stage was for the family to decorate it artistically so I had been promised progressive updates of the process. After much refining of plans and packing lists and cancellation due to rain, the day finally arrived. The major tasks were; to attach the roof, clad the library in mini-orb polycarbonate and attach it to the tree. I picked up Robert Evans at the appointed time so that we could meet up with Peter Whitten on site at 10.00am on 13 June. It was a magnificent winter’s day so it was a pleasure to work outside.

Three people were the ideal number, especially for the last phase – attaching it to the tree, allowing for the limitations of aging backs and other limb deficiencies. After two hours and some great teamwork, we were just about finished. The following pictures provide a memorable record of what we achieved on that day.

finished job

The next stages are for Koran to register it on the official site – appoint one of her older children as librarian to ensure that the library is kept stocked with books and so that people can read the story about your library and its location.

Our thanks go to Bunnings Dural for its generous sponsorship of this worthwhile community project.

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33A Sefton Rd Thornleigh NSW 2120