Ardeth Staz has received the permission she was seeking to have two little libraries installed in The Village.
Little libraries, she explained to councillors Monday night, are “little boxes, or houses,” that contain a collection of books for sharing. The collection changes over time as residents visit the library and take a book, or add a book.
There is an official Little Free Libraries Association, which says they will be successful if located in high traffic areas, “so we think our mailboxes are the perfect location.”
The history of Little Free Libraries began in 2009, when the late Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, mounted a wooden structure, designed to look like a one-room schoolhouse, on a post on his lawn and filled it with books. It was a tribute to his late mother, who had been a teacher and a book-lover. Since then, the idea has spread and developed into a non-profit organization that includes maps of where to find such free libraries.
With the number of residents in The Village, the expected growth in the area, and the public library not too far away, Staz said they didn’t want or need to become part of the official association, which might attract more visitors to their little libraries.
They have ensured a high-traffic location by asking for them to be placed by the mail boxes, but needed permission from the town, owner of the pergolas.
“Everyone goes to get their mail, so they can get a book at the same time,” Staz told councillors Monday evening. “I imagine it will be even more active when the medical centre is built, the Life Lab is here and the new rental apartments are completed.”
Instead of putting other posts up, Staz said, “it makes a lot of sense to use the posts that are already part of the pergolas in the mail box area.”
The libraries were built by two Village residents, and with an approved budget by the Village Community Association, and donations of materials, as well as checking with Canada Post, the local delivery person and with developer John Hawley, town approval was the last piece of the puzzle.
The appearance of the libraries and the colour they are painted even adhere to the Village Architectural Codes, Staz said.
She has also been in touch with the public library to make sure the little libraries are not seen as competing with them.
“Our goals are the same, promoting literacy,” she added.
The library staff have provided flyers to display with the little libraries that describe public library services, there will be COVID protocol reminders, and hand sanitizer will be provided.
Although books are not of concern as a COVID transmission route, a recent VCA newsletter explaining the libraries suggests book borrowers “may want to let a book sit for a few days before you start reading it. Don’t visit the library if you are feeling sick.”
People will still visit the public library on Anderson Lane, and they will still buy books, said Staz, “however, during this time of COVID when people are tending to stay close to home, and not visiting book stores or the public library, the VCA little libraries can provide a safe alternative for acquiring books very close to home, without being in contact with anyone.”
The VCA will be responsible for maintaining them, and everyone who uses them will be asked to help keep them well-organized and well-taken care of.
The libraries will be installed in the mailbox areas on McDonnell Street and Perez Street, both of which are areas visited by all residents and accessible to others who visit the neighbourhood, she said.
The little libraries, Staz added, “will enhance our sense of community.”