Little free libraries have become a neighbourhood must-have in North America and Greater Victoria now has more than 650 of them.
“The thing I love about them most is they’re often less about books and so much more about community and connecting people,” says newly-elected Saanich councillor Teale Phelps Bondaroff.
Teale is a volunteer board member with the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network and started the Pocket Places Project in 2017.
“It’s so exciting to see how this project has grown,” Teale says. “When we started the project we thought, ‘Oh we might get to 150 but it will be a struggle,’ so to see people get so excited about little free libraries, it fills me with joy and it gives me hope!”
They’ve helped distribute more than 70,000 books, built 150-plus libraries themselves, and mapped out all 656 so they’re easy for people to find.
“I think the fact so many people have made these little free libraries shows people want nice things for everyone around them,” says Liz Cronin, who helped open the 650th little library last month. “They want to live in communities where people feel connected to each other. They want to live in communities where we share things.”
Built by Liz’s neighbours from up-cycled materials, the 650th little library — the ‘Garden View Little Free Library’ — is at the corner of Haultain and Scott Streets.
“I love the books are free,” says Liz. “I think it just sends such a good message that if we work together we can have good things for free for people in the community.”
And it’s no longer just books — there are little libraries for toys, seeds, plants, art supplies, puzzles, board games, and even some yarn barns in the Capital Region.
“People in the region are so creative and they’ve taken that creativity and made little libraries for all manner of different things and I just think that’s an example of how people love creating community and shaping the world around them,” says a smiling Teale.