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Little free libraries bring books to your neighbourhood

Monday, Jan. 27 is Family Literacy Day in the Tri-Cities and people are encouraged to check out local events bringing families together to read. The Tri-Cities Family Literacy Committee is also offering grants of up to $250 for people to build a Little Free Library in their neighbourhood. More information is available at tricitieslliteracy@gmail.com

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When Terrific Kids Day Care owner Vicki Lepper takes her charges for a walk, the first place she takes the tykes is to Walton Forest park in Coquitlam where there's a little wooden structure sitting on a pole.

Opening the glass door to what looks like a miniature house, Lepper extracts a book and the excited children gather around to check it out. It turns out the house is a library, a Little Free Library, which Lepper and her family built and maintain.

No one is more surprised than Lepper at how popular the Walton Little Free Library has been since it was completed in November. People have been visiting it frequently throughout the winter, taking and leaving books, and occasionally, dropping off little notes of thanks.

"It's been amazing," said Lepper of the project which was funded by the Tri-Cities Literacy Committee. "I'm  always getting comments from my neighbors who think it's a great addition."

These Little Free Libraries might not require library cards, and their selections are arguably small, but they've become popular in the Tri-Cities, and Barb Mancell would like to see more of them. Grants of $250 are being offered to people interested in establishing them on their lawns or in parks, with the proviso that they look after the book selections and maintain the library.

"You need to have somebody that's going to take responsibility for the structure and the books that are going in and out," explained Mancell, who is the Tri-Cities Literacy Committee coordinator. But from what she's seen — there are already five Little Free Libraries in the Tri-Cities — the libraries are well-looked after, there is no vandalism, and people are happy to take a book and leave a book.

Mancell said she's even seen people spread out a blanket to read a book at the Little Free Library in Galloway Park in Coquitlam. "I love the idea of it because it gives a bit more of a neighborhood feeling and it is something for people to talk about."

The day the Tri-City News visited the Walton library, it was well stocked with almost-new kids' books, including a Dr. Seuss book, lifestyle magazines for adults and a range of adult books, including one by Margaret Atwood.

In Anmore Village, the community has come to take ownership of the two Little Free Libraries which are looked after by neighbourhood stewards, said councillor Tracy Green.

"They promote reading and literacy and they also promote community," said Green. "In the summer, you see people walking all the time and checking out the library."

The builders put a lot of thought and decoration into the structures and there was a block party to celebrate the opening. Two more are planned for the spring, said Green, and neighbours typically chip in for supplies and help with building. Groups can even register their library (and have it mapped) at the U.S. based www.littlefreelibrary.org.

For Lepper, who visits the Walton Park Little Free Library with her kids regularly, and looks after the collection, these miniature libraries are a great way to connect with neighbours over books and reading.

She's looking for someone to add a bench to the Walton library and encourages them to contact the city of Coquitlam's adopt a bench program.

"It would be a terrific addition to the park and also offer a great spot to sit and read a story and promote literacy."

• More information about Coquitlam's bench program is available under Recreation, Parks and Culture at www.coquitlam.ca. More information about the Little Free Library grants is available by emailing tricitiesliteracy@gmail.com

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

 

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