Design Plans for Building a Community Library

A community library is an incredible way to engage with your community! Simply put, a community library is box in a public space where people can give books they are no longer using and take books to read other people have donated. In this instruction, you will be guided through how to construct your own community library!

As an extra challenge, how might you utilize “found” or scrap materials to build your library? All of the materials used in this library would have been waste and delivered to a landfill. Even the screws and nails were salvaged from somewhere! Up-cycling materials is a very cost effective way to build your library.

Click the below button for access to an interactable 3D model of the library including that ability to “explode” the view for additional details of how this is assembled!

Necessary Parts & Tools


  • 1 – 4’ x 8’ ¾” plywood sheet
  • 10 – 3″ x 31″ x 0.75″ Pallet Boards
  • 3 – Roofing Shingles
  • 2.5” #8 or #10 Drywall screws
  • 3.5” #8 or #10 Drywall screws
  • 1” Roofing nails
  • 2″ Framing Nails
  • 2 – 2’ x 4’ x 8’ Pressure Treated Board
  • Cabinet Knob
  • Magnetic Cabinet Closure
  • 1” x 1” Cabinet hinge
  • Gorilla Tape Weather Proofing Sealant
  • Paint Brushes
  • Paint
  • Primer
  • ~14” x ~24” Plexiglass or Utility Board
  • 100% Silicon Caulk
  • Assorted Sandpaper
  • 40 lb bag of concrete


  • Table Saw or Circular Saw
  • Miter Saw or Circular Saw
  • Power Drill
  • Hammer
  • Phillips Head Drill Bits
  • Hand sander
  • Phillips Head Screw Driver
  • Tape Measure
  • Speed Square
  • Caulking Gun
  • Level

Step 1: Preparing Materials

Cut the 4’ x 8’ ¾” plywood sheet and pallet boards as per the instructions listed in Community Library – Wood Cut Dimensions linked below,

Step 2: Assembly

Assemble the library as per the instructions listed in Community Library – Assembly Instructions linked below. The document includes the high level layout and assembly dimensions of the components. Directions instructing specific hardware choices will be described below.


Assembling the Main Housing

Start by laying the BACK flat on a flat surface and connect one of the SIDES, as shown on the drawing, using 3 – 2.5″ screws (one 4″-5″ from the top, one 4″-5″ from the bottom, and the third in the middle). Repeat for the other SIDE piece. The BOTTOM should also be connected using 2.5″ screws with 2 screws on each side. The board widths, as designed, are 0.625″ (measure your boards if using a different size). We want the screws to enter the middle of the end grain on the board, therefore all of the screws should be drilled 0.3125 from the edge (0.625/2).

With the BOTTOM attached, connect the SHELF using the same method. Finally, lay the ROOF atop the assembly and position per the drawings. Screw in through the top of the ROOF into the SIDE pieces using 4 screws (two on each side.

Attaching the Panels

Use three 2″ finishing nails per panel to connect each of the panels to the library housing. Ensure to align the edges, as this step will create a more polished look for your library. The PANEL – FRONT BOTTOM can be either nailed to the BOTTOM or can be connected to the adjacent panels using pocket holes and screws.


Finishing the Assembly

With some medium grit sandpaper, or an orbital sander as seen in the below video of my 3-year old finishing the library, sand smooth the outside edges and surfaces. Do what she’s doing – she did a pretty good job! This step will help prepare the surface for paint/stain and also reduce the risk of splinters for visitors to your library.


Attaching Roofing Shingles

You may notice in the photos, I am using a colorful plates as the roof. This material is a salesman sample pack for metal roofs I found on a bike ride. You can utilize many materials to build your roof, but ensure you lay your first shingle plate at the bottom of the roof, and then work your way to the top ensuring overlapping of the joints. For asphalt shingles, measure the length of the roof (21 in), cut roofing shingles to this length. Align the bottom edge of the shingle ~1 inch over the edge of the roof, and then nail along the top edge of the shingle. Overlay a second shingle on top of the first beginning approximately at the mid point and nail in place. Repeat until the entire roof is covered.


Building & Connecting the Door

The door in the photos is constructed of 3″ pallet boards cut in half (1.5″ wide) with a slot routed in the middle to accommodate a piece of Plexiglas. The drawing below utilizes the same pallet board front, but with a recess in the back to accommodate a 1/8″ piece of utility board to be stapled in.

With the door assembled, connect the door to the library using a pair of small hinges. Drill a 3/8″ hole on the right side of the door to accommodate a handle. To keep the door shut when not in use, I utilized a magnet secured to the frame of the library that touched the screw head of the handle. Using cabinet closures is also an effective solution.


Step 3: Setting the Post

Using a post hole digger or auger, dig a hole 8-10 inches in diameter, 2-3 feet deep. Once complete, insert the post assembly with 20-30 lbs of concrete. Mix the concrete as per the manufacturer’s instructions. When setting the post to ensure it is level, hammer a long (semi-thin) piece of wood to act as a stake in the ground next to the post, and screw one end of a second piece of wood to the stake and the other end to the post assembly once it is level. This stake and crossbar will secure the post assembly while the concrete is curing (Or you can brace it other ways – like sitting there and holding it for 4-5 hrs…).


Step 4: Attach Library Assembly to Post

See page 4 of “Community Library Drawing – Assembly Instructions. pdf” for details on connecting the library to the post.

%d bloggers like this: