How to build an amazing street library

Share your love of reading and find new faves with a book exchange!

It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a good book to get lost in or want to share a ripping yarn that you’ve just enjoyed, you can do both by building a street library. It’s a book exchange where you can leave a book you’re finished with that your neighbours can pick up and enjoy. In return, they might drop off one of their faves so that you or someone else can experience the thrill of another terrific tale.

Here’s how to build one of your own.

Marking up plywood

STEP 1 Measure and mark the 12mm ply and use circular saw to cut two sections 400 x 1000mm (sides) and two sections 400 x 1100mm (front and back). To avoid confusion mark one 400mm end of each panel to flag it as the bottom.

Draw a grid on plywood

STEP 2 Take both 1000mm panels and one 1100mm panel and, using a builder’s square, draw a horizontal line 150mm up from bottom. On the 1000mm panels, do the same from the top down, on the 1100mm panel draw the line 250mm down. On both sides of the three panels, 100mm in from the edge, mark from the top to bottom line to create your window outlines. Now set out evenly spaced sections for your window cut-outs. The horizontal and vertical frame sections between the windows should be at least 20mm wide.

Drawing a curve on plywood

STEP 3 On the two 1100mm panels, mark for the curved roof. This must be consistent on both panels and must start 100mm from the top. Either find a suitably shaped object as a template or temporarily drive a small nail into the centre line of the boards around 200mm down, wrap a stringline around this, pull taught while holding your pencil in the same hand and use this to trace a perfect arc.

Cutting plywood with a jigsaw

STEP 4 Take the 1100mm panel with the marked window grid and, 40mm out from sides, top and bottom of the windows, mark another border. Very carefully use your circular saw to cut along this line. Stop short of the corners and finish with jigsaw. This cut-out section will be your door.

Sanding cut edges of plwyood

STEP 5 Use jigsaw to carefully cut arc from top of the two 1100mm panels. Retaining the curved offcut sections. Sand the cut edges to remove any splintering.

Cutting plywood

STEP 6 In each of the three panels marked-up for windows, carefully drill a hole on the inside corner of each window section. This is to allow access for your jigsaw. Position jigsaw and cut from hole to hole. Cut out all window openings this way. Once complete, sand all cut edges to tidy up.

Get the rest of the project

To get your free project sheet with the all the step-by-step instructions to make your own street library, email [email protected] with the subject line ‘Street library’.

What is street library?

Street Library is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2015. It has dual goals of encouraging literacy through the easy availability of books and to motivate people to engage with their community in a positive and easy way. There are currently 1400 registered street libraries around the country, with a goal of 5000 by the end of 2021. To find one near you, pick up a street library kit or register one you’ve built, go to

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