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VIDEO: Students, teacher, community members in Oak Bay, Victoria replace library

Redfern Park sports a shiny new little lending library thanks to partnership

A bright red box full of books, designed by an Oak Bay High student, now serves residents in the Redfern Park area after vandalism and weather wiped out the original.

A Muppet-themed little free library was designed, built and installed by an artist about five years ago in the Victoria park, said Matt Dell, president of the South Jubilee Neighbourhood Association. Over time, weather took a toll on the piece and eventually vandals issued a final blow, rendering it unusable, he said.

The neighbourhood association launched an online fundraiser and quickly hit $1,000, enough to source a new one through Oak Bay High. Students and teacher Alex Bowen removed the old box and installed the new one on Feb. 4.

“We’ve been waiting for probably six months for this. We’re just really excited to have a new neighbourhood library,” Dell said.

When Bowen issued the challenge to his woodworking class, Grade 10 student Henry Baker quickly volunteered.

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A resident of the area, Baker sees it on his walk to school and has used it since it was installed.

“I remember when (the Muppet library) went up, we used it all the time. I couldn’t pass it up, the opportunity to contribute,” he said.

It went through a few stages of design and Baker settled on a large space, with ample height to accommodate everything from novels to children’s books. It has a sloped roof with proper shingles.

A chalk board adorns the side for visitors to leave cheerful or helpful messages. Grade 11 students Noah Scott and Evan Warburton jumped in during the final stages of building, and braved rain and wind to help install it.

“I thought it would be a nice way to add to the community,” Scott said.

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Warburton is nearly finished building a little free library at home for his own neighbourhood.

Bowen says the students planned, designed and built the Redfern Park box with little help from him.

“They’ve done an awesome job, coming together and being able to install the library in the park today.”

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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