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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

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In Milwaukee Buzz

The green realtor with her green Little Free Library. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling )

In Milwaukee Buzz

Sedum tiles up top. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling )

In Milwaukee Buzz

Beach glass fish adorn the structure. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling )

Little Free Library sprouts small, green roof


When Toni Spott saw a Little Free Library a few years ago, she immediately wanted one for her Bay View yard.

"I grew up in a library, reading voraciously," says Spott, who was born and raised in Sacramento, Calif. "Everything I have learned in life, I learned through reading."

Spott was attracted to the concept because little free libraries allow people to peruse books, which seems to happen less and less.

"A lot of people are too busy to go to libraries or they just go online now," says Spott. "So I particularly love the idea that people can stumble upon a little library when they are walking around their neighborhood."

Determined to get a Little Free Library in her front yard, Spott found design plans online and her husband of 25 years, Michael, planted a cedar post in the front yard. The post stood there, library-free, for about a year while Spott sporadically worked on the structure.

Last fall, she finally finished it.

"When I started the project, there were not any little libraries in my neighborhood, but now there are four or five," says Spott. "But it's all good. In my opinion, you really can't have too many."

Spott's Little Free Library, however, has a stand-out feature that makes it very different from all of the others. It has a green roof.

The green roof was installed last week by John Lottes, the chief marketing officer for Hanging Gardens, a small company in Walker's Point offering stormwater and green roofing services.

"At three square feet, Spott's library may have the smallest green roof in the world," says Lottes.

Just like the larger versions, the library's roof is slanted and topped with sedum tiles. There is also a side drainage system on the roof so it doesn't fill up with rainwater.

Sustainability and "being green" is extremely important to Spott. As a realtor with Keller Williams, she has a green designation and she also lives her life in accordance with sustainability as much as she can.

Michael attests to his wife's ongoing commitment to recycling and reusing.

"Toni has always been a big believer in recycling written content. She feels this stuff is worth so much that it should be in other people's hands," he says. "She used to make me go to the laundromat with magazines so other people would read them."

As a native of California, it's no surprise that Spott decorated her LFL as a "beach library." She has collected beach glass for years and used it to make fish and water patterns on the outside walls. She also painted "one drip makes waves, save water" on the back of the structure.

Spott stocks a wide range of books in her Little Free Library. Most of her books come from Goodwill, rummage sales or boxes in her basement. She says she always tries to have at least a few kids' books available and would like to stock more Spanish language books in the future.

She also noticed that books on the subject of sex seem to fly out the little door.

"I recently put a book on orgasms in there and it was gone less than a day later. Then I put another sex book in there and boom, gone. I'm getting ready to put another one in there soon," she says. "It's great. I'm glad people are finding these books so interesting."

While out and about for work, Spott says she enjoys spotting Little Free Libraries throughout the city and often pulls over to check them out.

"I always have books in my trunk, just in case I want to take a book," she says. "And leave a book."


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