It’s an idea that’s been brewing in Charlayne Thornton-Joe’s mind for the past year.
Little libraries — it’s a concept where people build a box in various sizes, shapes and colours and put books inside. People in the neighbourhood can browse the books or leave books there, as a way of promoting the “take a book, leave a book” philosophy.
Thornton-Joe, who is also the council liaison for the Fernwood neighbourhood, first came across a little library in Fernwood and decided to bring one to her community in Saanich.
“When I first saw them I kept thinking ‘one of these days I want one of these’,” she said, adding for the past 15 years she’s had a water dish for dogs at the end of her driveway.
Her husband then went to work, researching other little libraries and in his spare time, slowly built the little wood library that currently sits on their driveway.
A bit larger than the average little library standing at roughly five feet tall, Thornton-Joe’s library has enough room for dozens of books and a section for kids books as well. It also sits on wheels in case they want to bring it inside during bad weather or if they’re concerned about vandalism.
For the first few days after they put it on their property, people would stop by, wonder what the box is and keep moving. Now, almost every day a book is looked at, removed or added, Thornton-Joe said.
“It’s all about building community and connecting with your neighbours. Life is just so busy with social media and things, and you don’t connect with your neighbours as often as you would like,” she said.
“Although I don’t see all the people at the book box, I feel there’s a bit of interaction just by them leaving the books. Depending on what books they read, it gives me a sense of what my neighbours are reading.”
Little libraries have been taking off in local neighbourhoods and the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network has begun mapping them around the capital region to give people better access.
For the past few months, volunteers Stephanie Ferguson and Teale Bondaroff have been biking around mapping them, and so far they have compiled 84 little libraries.
“We’re just trying to create a community resource and encourage community placemaking and a sense of community in neighbourhoods around the city,” said Lorne Daniel, director of education with the network, adding the little libraries often become conversation spots between people.
“We see this as a great example of people taking responsibility and leading positive change in the neighbourhood in small ways.
To view the map visit victoriaplacemaking.ca/projects.