Take a book, leave a book is a principle flourishing in the Capital Regional District, where little free libraries are popping up to offer stories and a sense of community.
On Sunday organizers marked a big milestone as they unveiled the district’s 700th little free library, which was met with community applause, according to Teale Phelps Bondaroff with the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (GVPN).
Placemaking looks to turn the page and make communities “more human,” explains Bondaroff. He says the libraries are a fantastic way for locals to play an active role in making that reality.
“People in this region love little free libraries. Little free libraries are all about sharing, they’re about community, they’re about connecting people,” Bondaroff told CHEK News at the ribbon-cutting event in Vic West.
“Our family loves the little free libraries all over town,” said Kolby Gasko.
The new library, called “Kiddo Library,” is located at 448 Wilson St. and was built and installed by Gasko, who had some help from his son.
“I built this little library with my son Wolf who loves reading all kinds of books with us,” said dad. “He also really likes helping me build any sort of projects that I’m working on. We built it out of scrap material from a few job sites, we even found the glass panels on the side of the road.”
The GVPN runs the Pocket Place Project, which maps, promotes and stocks little free libraries district-wide. They’ve helped build more than 120 libraries and deliver 85,000 books to date, recalls Bondaroff.
“When we first started the Pocket Places Project, we mapped out 111 of these beautiful book boxes. Now I’m excited to say there are 700 of them,” he said.
“And they’re not just for books.”
A growing number of libraries are sharing items like plants, seeds, toys and puzzles, as some specialize in certain types of books, including the 700th library which features stories for children.
“It’s a fantastic way to get kids connected with books,” said Bondaroff.
“Our collection of kids’ books was starting to make our bookshelf sag, so we thought we could share with the neighbourhood and hopefully get a few new ones once in a while,” added Gasko.
Little free libraries are located in municipalities like Victoria, Esquimalt, Saanich and Langford and as far west as Jordan River. They’re also on the Gulf Islands, including Galiano, Mayne and Salt Spring islands.
“They’re fantastic for building community and sharing things that people need,” added Bondaroff. “So next time you go on a walk, hop over to the Greater Victoria Placemaking map, find a little free library near you, bring a book and look for something special.”
The library map is here.