Port Moody little libraries a passion project for book-loving cousins

Olivia Wong and Melissa Wong have also started a reading club for young people

Port Moody has two new libraries, thanks to a passion for reading shared by a pair of students.

The little libraries, which welcome visitors to share their literary finds with others, were installed in Rocky Point and Art Wilkinson parks last September.

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Olivia Wong, a Grade 12 student at Dr. Charles Best secondary school in Coquitlam, had been percolating the idea of building a little lending library in her mind for several years. 

It was idleness brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the inspiration of the nightly 7 p.m. cheers for front-line workers last spring that brought it to full boil.

She enlisted her cousin, Melissa Wong, to help design, build and paint the wooden structures. The project took them about 85 hours to complete through the summer, using plans they found online.

“We’re very much perfectionists,” Olivia said.

“We added some of our touches as well,” said Melissa, who attends Grade 12 at Heritage Woods secondary.

The two applied for a $750 grant from Rising Youth, a national program that fosters leadership skills and community connections for young people, to help pay for materials, and connected with Port Moody’s supervisor of horticulture, Robbie Nall, to secure locations for their initiative.

But the enterprising cousins didn’t stop there.

Olivia and Melissa said they wanted to share their passion for reading with other youth as well so they started a book club for kids in grades 2 to 5. 

Page Turners meets twice a month —virtually for now — to talk about the books members are currently reading, or favourites they’ve completed, along with any other topic that comes up. 

In October, Halloween costumes was a particularly lively topic, said Olivia.

The book club is especially apt for visitors to their little library in Art Wilkinson park, as it’s located right next to a daycare. Olivia said one of the prized early deposits was the entire series of Ivy and Bean books.

Melissa, who admits she has a weakness for young adult fiction, said the pair sometimes hang out near their libraries to see who’s visiting and what books they’re leaving behind. Of course, it helps that the library in Rocky Point Park is located near Rocky Point Ice Cream so they can reward their stealth with a frozen snack.

If the stockpile of titles in a library gets low, the cousins have been known to reseed them with books they purchase from local thrift shops and Value Village with leftover funds from the grant.

Olivia said it’s rewarding when she sees someone walking away from a little library with a book under their arm and a smile on their face.

“A lot of people sound happy,” she said. “And they’re all ages.”

To learn more about the Page Turners book club, go here.

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