Combating Common Little Free Library Issues

fullsizerender-4 About six months ago after seeing Little Free Libraries pop up in Burbank and all over, I decided to install one in my front yard. As I’ve said in the past my neighborhood is great, there are a lot of people who have lived there for a long time and in general look out for each other however as the “newbie” on my particular block it can be hard to break the ice with people so to speak. I felt it was a way to bring the neighborhood together since we have a ton of young kids that have moved one block down I thought it would be a nice way for people to interact. I had a friend make it and it matches my house. (Naturally there is a dog hook!) I also think (and this is more of a soapbox issue for me) that the branch of the Burbank Library closest to my house has awful hours (12-6 Monday-Friday) and is not conducive to children in school and working adults using it. We have other branches however they require a drive and so the fun of just walking to your local library on a whim is gone. Hopefully someday post recession/Burbank budget crisis this will change. Stepping off the soapbox now…

Before I installed the library I read everything I could because I really wanted to set myself and this library up for success. There’s even a group for just “stewards” (people who have a Little Free Library) on Facebook that is a wealth of information. It seems across the board there seems to be a few common problems with Little Free Libraries, some of which I have come across others which I have not. Here is my take on them and how I have solved the problems that I have encountered.

1. Issues with their municipality/zoning/building codes, etc – I thankfully do not have a problem here. I’ve read several stories of HOAs and cities citing owners and requiring their removal. I didn’t exactly apply for a permit but there are many other LFLs in Burbank and this one is on my side of the property, not the parkway. I could see if it was on the parkway it being an issue. Undoubtably if the city started giving grief to LFL owners you would see me at a city council meeting.

2. Vandalism- Again this isn’t a problem here but I see it all of the time in the Facebook group. My neighborhood is pretty quiet at night and thankfully if something weird is going on outside, my dogs tend to let me know. My library is also near an intersection that is well lit and so I don’t see this issue happening. I know others have installed lights and cameras to combat this issue. I’ve considered installing a light not so much for security but more so patrons can see at night.

3. Weather Related – Here in California we don’t have a snow problem but we’ve had a rain problem recently. Thankfully my LFL is sealed really well and has a pitched roof so it didn’t leak during the last rainstorm. I know several stewards who have issues. The best advice I can give on this is use the same rules of thumb you would use when waterproofing a house and silicone and a slight overhang are your BFFs!

4. Religious Texts / Inappropriate Books- I don’t exactly live in the Bible Belt and so I’m sure this isn’t as big of an issue here as it would be elsewhere but I’ve had a couple issues with religious pamphlets. The occasional Bible does get left in the library. Usually I leave it in for a week to see if someone takes it, if not I donate it or recycle it depending on the condition as I would with any book that isn’t “moving.” It’s not really an issue with me. Pamplets or religious books that are more advertisement for the religion I recycle ASAP. In October I was on vacation for a week and I came back to a ton of religious books and pamphlets in the library. It was like different groups were trying to one up each other. I recycled those because I felt that this was not the place for them and it was really taking away from the point of the library.

As far as “inappropriate books” I’ve never really had any. Some stewards are very picky about this stuff, I’m really not. It’s not my place to judge what people want to read. If something is outright porn with nude pictures, etc I would take it out however I haven’t had that happen yet. (Please don’t start) But as an example, I left one of the 50 Shades books in and it was gone within a day. As I said before though if a book isn’t moving I usually take it out for a while or if it’s in bad shape recycle it.

5. Book Hoarders/Resellers – This is probably my biggest problem and it really isn’t a large issue for me but is annoying. The entire concept of a Little Free Library is take a book, leave a book. I don’t hold people to this. I get sometimes that you are out and don’t have a book to give, that’s totally fine. The issue I have is with the book resellers. They come with little scanners to see how much books are worth and then take a bunch and drive away. They never contribute books, only take them. To me this really defeats the purpose of the library. It’s supposed to be a community thing, not a resale thing. I took the advice of some other stewards and started marking the inside of the books LFL or something like that. It’s harder to for people to sell them this way. This was getting slightly annoying and so I finally broke down and ordered a stamp. I hate to have to police it but people bring books for others to enjoy and not to be resold so someone else can profit. There are many places to get stamps made and I had a pretty decent coupon from Vista Print and so I ordered from there. Here’s what mine looks like. With a coupon code it came to about $15 and it has 10,000 “uses.” I have a somewhat lower volume LFL so hopefully this should last me quite a while.

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Are there any other stewards here who have any additional tips or issues? Or do you use a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? What do you like about it? What would you like to see improved?Leave me a comment!

Termites!

img_2112This is quite possibly the scariest word for any homeowner. I’ve been lucky so far, I haven’t needed any termite work done since the house was purchased in 2007. Weird markings on my hardwood floor started showing up; I usually blame it on the dogs but these markings would be hard to prove it was them. In the back of my mind I had a nagging feeling it may be termites but I didn’t want to believe it so I put off calling.

Finally someone I do volunteer work with mentioned that they had work done by one of the all natural orange companies who advertises on the radio all of the time.

I called and arranged for an inspection thinking it would be a quick thing. It was actually an hour and a half long process. They were very precise with everything. The only thing that struck me as funny is that they mentioned that my attic was very narrow (which I knew) and that they would need to bring the “little person” to do my attic on the day they do the job. Being 4′ 10.5″ (the .5 totally makes a difference!) myself I found this to be hilarious. They went over everything with me and even showed me the termite dust that fell down when they checked my patio. I love how they circled it to drive the point home and to add to my paranoia. It was a nice touch. 🙂

All in all, the price that they gave me was pretty fair and in line what friends told me they had paid for whole house treatments and I saved an extra 10% by mentioning that I heard them on the radio, yay! Since I’m kind of a environmental junkie and the fact that I have three dogs, tenting my house and being out for a couple of days was not an option. I decided to go with this company because they do the no  tenting orange treatment. A lot of people give really good feedback on it. I pushed out service date for March 8th because I have a charity yard sale at my house the week before and I have a feeling my garage and patio will be filled with people’s donated crap, I mean fine treasures and the crew wouldn’t be able to work around it very well. I’ll report back on my experience after then.

70s Pyrex, Curtains and Ugly Washer Hookups

On Thursday night, I received a Facebook message from a stranger whom I purchased some Pyrex from off of my local Buy/Sell/Swap Facebook page last month. She still had a few pieces leftover from her onslaught of buyers and wanted to know if I wanted to take a look at the remaining pieces and buy them for $2 and $5 if anything grabbed my attention. I’m not a Pyrex hoarder collector by any means but I like the look of it in my dining room so I immediately said “heck yeah!” I jokingly said when I posted a picture online of my last haul from her that I was getting my 1970s housewife on. Today was no different. My apologies to my father whom I spent the better part of the 90/00s mocking 70s decor to. He’s totally getting the last laugh here. I really didn’t have a plan in mind when I bought the stuff but somehow it all worked out pretty well on one of the built ins in my dining room.

For whatever reason this sparked something in me and I decided to drag out my sewing machine and sew a valance that I’ve been wanting to put in my kitchen for two years now. Of course, the one time I decided to drag out the machine in years it decided to have it’s reoccurring problem of eating bobbins again so I used iron on tape instead. The result wasn’t 100% awesome, but it’s better than the curtain rod without fabric I had hanging there for 2+ years.

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I also with some of the leftover fabric decided to make a cover with velcro for the unused water lines in my laundry room… I feel like I owe a bit of an explanation for this. It’s not some random house quirk that I can blame the previous owners on (10 years later I still do that), it’s kind of my fault. When the house was first purchased, the washer and dryer were on opposite walls with a microwave hanging on a suspended shelf on the ceiling over the dryer. I so wish I had taken a picture of this because it was really bizarre. When I decided to upgrade to a front loader set, I decided to stack  the washer and dryer so that I could have more space for storage, a built in ironing board and so the dog could have a dedicated eating space. This was when there was only had one dog, oh how times have changed! Long story short, this left very unsightly washer hookups on the opposite side of the stacked set where the washing machine used to be. Instead of caping the lines and filling in the hole I decided to leave them “just in case.” I figured it would be good for the future and to give future owners many, many, many years from now flexibility. In my mind this is perceived added value but I know it’s not really true. Instead of installing some cool door to hide the lines or even running to Home Depot and buying one of the plastic covers I let it sit for five years, unsuccessfully covering it with a hanging duster and dryer brush. Finally I have a little cover made from a bubble mailer, fabric and a glue gun. I would have used plywood but that required a trip to the store and the lazy factor set in. Classy huh? But it worked and it’s better than what was there before. Or at least I think so.

The Carving Board & Assigned Seats at AMC

Since today is seemingly the only break from the rain this weekend, I decided to check out a relatively new place to eat in Burbank and see a movie. A dear friend makes fun of me and states that I only like about 10 restaurants in Burbank which isn’t exactly true… I’m just a creature of habit and really dislike Olive Garden and BJs which they love. Another friend had posted about The Carving Board so I decided to give it a shot. Upon walking in there I immediately realized that based on the atmosphere alone if I was in Silverlake I would have already said I’m out because I already felt a little too hipster being in the place. (This article from a few years ago caused strong emotions for me and made me want to shout “keep your hands off my Burbank hipsters!” 🙂 ) It had all the right hipster elements, too small/hard to read menu, meals not on plates and weird pieces of wood instead of actual table numbers but hey, at least there were regular seats and tables.

I had the Bentley sandwich and it was good, 5/5 stars and not to oversaturated with dressing. The chips that came with it were kind of forgettable but I wasn’t about to pay an extra $2 to upgrade to some kind of sad looking fries. For two people the bill was $32 which is pricier for a order up counter type place but not unreasonable given the quality of the food.  As much as I felt like I should turn in my Burbank card just by being there, I will be going back.

After lunch we ventured over to the AMC 16 to see the new M. Night Shyamalan movie, Split to see if he’s out of director jail yet. (Spoiler alert – he is). Like most theaters AMC seems to be taking a cue from the Arclight in recent months and doing assigned seats. I personally love it, but it caused a pretty heated discussion on our local Facebook page where people feel that by assigning seats they are being treated like children. News flash: If the usual people I see texting, talking or translating the movie for their friend in a different language are any indication, they really deserve to be treated as such. Last time I was there a couple of weeks ago to see LaLa Land, two couples almost came to blows over assigned seats (one refused to get up from the seats that were not assigned to them and then proceeded to talk about it during the entire movie). Today there was a similar issue with everyone in the row ahead of me needing to move one over so that they could be in their assigned seats. Really, this just confounds me. When asked to pick a seat when purchasing their ticket do they think it’s an option? Do people fly on airplanes and not understand seat assignments? I really, really just do not get it. The Oatmeal does this really funny comic about movie theaters and I’m whole heartedly starting to agree with it. Anyone up for a letter writing campaign? 😉

A Lesson in Shopping Local

Let me start off by saying if it wasn’t already clear from the “about me” section of my blog, I looove Burbank. I’m also a huge believer in shopping local (especially in Magnolia Park) and giving back to the community. This widely circulated meme has made me burst into tears on more than one occasion.

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With all this being said, I have a dark confession to make. As much as I advocate shopping local and I really do (just look at my monthly card statement and see my Dino’s Pizza and Audrey K Boutique charges – it’s kind of alarming) I’m super lazy when it comes to everyday stuff like food and household goods and pretty much buy everything from bananas to toilet paper online. Why? Well, part of me figures most of the time would be a big box purchase anyway from a Ralphs, Target, etc  (the sales tax though, I know, I know…) and the second part is time. Not so much that I don’t have time to shop but laundry detergent will get to my door faster with Amazon Prime than me remembering to go to Target and buy it. It’s a sad but true fact. Because of this, I have some pretty odd combinations of things from Amazon shipped and the occasional lost package. For someone who worked retail and customer service for over a decade of my life I really dread calling customer service when something goes wrong. When I had a package show up as delivered and it wasn’t this week the impending feeling of doom set in. I waited a day hoping that it would show up and even flagged down my mail carrier asking her if she’s seen it… alas she had not so it’s time to call Amazon CS. When I spoke to “Van” I explained that I was home when it was “delivered” and my dogs make for excellent doorbells and so the chances of someone sneaking off with it are pretty unlikely. Then the questions started, the highlights of the conversation were as follows:

CS: “Did you check under your doormat?”

Me: “Uh, it’s a giant prime pantry box”

CS: “What about a neighbor, maybe the driver didn’t feel safe leaving the box?”

Me: “Nope don’t think so they probably would have let me know and honestly my house is the house that UPS, etc usually leaves stuff with because I’m home during the day.”

CS: Is it in your backyard perhaps?

Me: No, it’s not.

CS: Well what about under your car?

Me: I drive a Prius, it wouldn’t fit under there.

**Awkward laughter from the rep after each answer**

We go back and fourth like this for a few minutes. Now this is not a knock on Amazon CS, it’s easy to make fun of this conversation but I understand that they really do have to ask these questions. Finally she offers me a refund, I ask her if she can just replace the items and she says no just a refund. I tell her fine and she puts me on hold. A few minutes later she comes back and actually tells me that her system is making her “give the post office a chance” and I need to call back on Monday. No offer to follow up, just see if you can find it and call back. I was a little stunned because in the rare times I’ve had something go missing I’ve never had this result but I ended the call and asked Siri to remind me to call back on Monday. All in all, I’ve wasted about 20 minutes of my life over three 12 packs of SURGE soda, fabric softer and Jet Dry. As I type it I feel even more ridiculous than I did ordering it.

The lesson? Maybe I should just grab some fabric softener tomorrow at Handy Market with my Tri Tip Sandwich.