A magical castle full of books

A magical castle full of books
The new tiny library at the corner of River Oaks and Fieldston

San Marco has a new library. It’s at the corner of River Oaks and Fieldston in front of the home of Justin and Alisan Weakland, who moved to the neighborhood two years ago.

The Weaklands moved from the Northside and had gotten acquainted with San Marco when they came to run or visit San Marco Square.

“We were looking for a family atmosphere,” Alisan said. “We liked the Riverwalk and the Square.”

Justin retired from the Navy in 2019 and now works for Aviation System Engineering Company. Alisan is a neonatal intensive care nurse at UF Health. They have a son and daughter.

“We wanted to give something back to the community,” Justin said.

The libraries interior
The libraries interior

They liked the idea of a tiny library containing books for various ages. People can take a book and leave a book. Justin began talking to a coworker at Aviation System, Chris Atchison, who is a woodworker.

Typically a tiny library is a box on a post, but Chris wanted to do something more unusual. Justin suggested the library could be a replica of their two-story house. But after more discussions, they decided to go with a Harry Potter theme because Alisan is a big fan of the books.

Chris and his father began work on it before Christmas.

“We didn’t have a plan so we rolled with the flow,” Chris said.

The boxes are made with furniture wood waterproofed with multiple coats of Flex Seal. For the texture, sand was mixed with the Flex Seal.  The base stone work was made with Green Energy spray foam, most commonly used for insulation. The foam can be carved. The completed boxes were sealed with Flex Seal and painted with latex paint. The result is a turreted castle with interior and exterior lighting that can change colors.

“It’s definitely larger than your usual tiny library,” Alisan said. “But it’s magical. It captures your imagination, which is what books do.”

Chris Atchison stands in front of the tiny library
Chris Atchison stands in front of the tiny library

Justin said they plan to decorate it for holidays. The Weaklands are already known for their decorations. They do elaborate light displays for Halloween and Christmas.

Justin is also involved in the Jacksonville Naval Museum, which recently brought the USS Orleck to the city to serve as a floating naval museum downtown. And they also have a website, Hidden Jacksonville, hiddenjacksonville.com. It promotes lesser known parts of Jacksonville as well as local artists, businesses and nonprofits.

“We wanted to give people a different perspective, tell them about things they might not have seen,” Justin said. “It’s meant to be a conversation starter, to give people a sense of ownership.”

By Lilla Ross
Resident Community News

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