Victoria man crafts little libraries that replicate neighbouring buildings

Victoria man crafts little libraries that replicate neighbouring buildings
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Victoria's Ray Young is behind this little library on Washington Avenue.

A Victoria man is helping make reading fun, tapping into his meticulousness and crafting little outdoor libraries replicating their neighbouring buildings.

The unique feat means retiree Ray Young, a former management consultant, can keep busy while giving his go at a long-time family hobby he’s grown to love.

“After I retired 10 years ago, I missed the creative side of my job, so I got into woodworking,” said Young. “It was my father’s hobby, and I decided to take up woodworking too.”

But what sets him apart from the rest is his choice to upcycle wood pallets as the medium for his projects, inspiring his business name I Used to be a Pallet. 

“For the little libraries, some of the materials are not pallet wood, but I use as much as I can,” explained Young. “I use cedar siding for durability as well.”

Years later, Young’s work is found across the city and beyond — with his first ever little library project commissioned out of Vancouver.

“One day, I got a call from someone at the University of British Columbia to build a replica library of a building on campus,” he recalled. “And then I did a couple of houses, and through word of mouth, I did a few more.”

Closer to home, Young’s libraries can be found on Washington Avenue and Harrop Road, with his latest one on Parry Street “the most challenging project yet” taking six months to complete.

That’s because the James Bay home’s unique features, from its Queen Anne-style hip roof to its beige, burgundy and green exterior colours, had to be mirrored to a tee.

“It has to be functional as well, so I use real roof materials and stuff like that so there are no leaks,” said Young, noting this little library is accessible from the sidewalk.

Modelled after the early-20th century Beckley Cottage, it’s just one of around 600 “Little Free Libraries” found across the Capital Region, according to the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network.

And with Young keeping busy, more are on the way — offering a place for book lovers to exchange readings or even small talk. 

“I’ve got four or five replica houses (libraries) completed and three on the go. Each of these is well over 100-year-old houses, so that’s what makes it more interesting and challenging,” added Young.

“If I continue to be challenged and have an opportunity to be creative, I’ll keep doing it. I’m glad people enjoy my work and appreciate their positive comments.”

An interactive map pinpointing the locations of little libraries around the region, including those crafted by Young, can be found online here.

(I Used to be a Pallet)

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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