Little Free Libraries are quaint, homemade book exchange boxes.
You may have seen them in neighbourhoods around the Greater Victoria Area, or perhaps you even have one on the street where you live.
The Little Free Libraries , or LFL’s as they are sometimes called, are one of many projects overseen by the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network. The GVPN is a volunteer-based non-profit society that works with municipalities, private developers, community groups and businesses to help launch projects that enhance the liveability of a region’s urban spaces.
“Little Free Libraries build community. They connect people. They create a hub for folks to meet, for people to connect, and not just around books,” said Phelps Bondaroff. “It’s around meeting folks, and talking. And whether that’s on-line or in person, they’re absolutely magical pieces of placemaking.”
Ken Beswick, who lives in Victoria’s Fairfield neighbourhood, proudly displays the LFL he just built out front of his home.
“The idea started with me noticing my friend’s Little Free Library on May Street – it’s a really nice one. So, I started thinking about it, and then all of a sudden I just had the free time and started looking around my shop,” explains Beswick. “Basically from the little projects I had in the past, I had enough stuff to build six of these. So, I built one anyway.”
The Linden Free Library, as Beswick has named it, is built in the style of a sweet little home, inspired by his wife’s Ukrainian heritage.
“Sonjia’s background is a bit of Ukrainian. We have a little Ukrainian village house in this style, so I copied the roof style, and basically took it from there. Her Dad had a little dog, and his name was Rabchik, so we put a little dog on the patio here,” Beswick explains.
“I was very proud of the little things he added to it, with the little dog, and flowers . . . he’s very talented,” adds Sonjia.
Victoria has the highest density of Little Free Libraries in Canada, according to Phelps Bondaroff, who has turned to Twitter to create an online community, using his own Rutledge Park Little Free Library as the conduit. (Twitter: @RutledgeParkLFL)
“It tweets pictures of its books every day” Phelps Bondaroff explains. “And it’s connected with little libraries around the world. In fact, when they had flooding down in Texas, my little library reached out to that one [in Texas] and tweeted ‘hey, how are you doing? Are you keeping your books dry?’ And that one responded, ‘I’m in a plastic bag, I’m doing well.’ So you had this great interaction between two non-sentient online entities.”
And just a few days ago, a children’s author from the United States sent Phelps Bondaroff a book that he could place inside his little library.
“That to me is really the magic of Little Free Libraries,” Phelps Bondaroff states, beaming with pride.
For more information and to view a map of the Little Free Libraries in the Greater Victoria Area, click here.