Being a librarian in my spare time

In addition to writing, editing and proofreading, I am now also the proud steward of a Little Free Library. Books continue to be as important as ever in these crazy times, and I wanted to find a way to encourage reading in my community, so I went ahead and got my very own little library installed.

My city was amazingly co-operative – not only giving permission to place my box in a local park but even installing a nice sturdy wooden post for the box for me. Which was great because in my enthusiasm, I almost forgot how non-handy I am. The box itself I bought from the LFL’s online store and finished with waterproofing stain. I also stencilled the name of my library on the back, as I am at least moderately crafty.

TIP: If you live in Canada, have it shipped to a US address if at all possible – the cost of shipping to Canada is staggering!) Or make it yourself if you have any skills.

The coolest parts were yet to come. By registering my Little Free Library number, I joined a community of people installing and running these all over the world – in front of houses, schools, coffee shops, parks and public squares, you name it. I get a little jealous when I see a really cool one, like this tree stump turned into a gorgeous little library.

And then, of course, there’s the job of keeping it stocked with books. My library is on the small side, but I can probably get about 30 books in there. A couple of years ago, I won an entire box of books from the Word Vancouver festival, including fiction, poetry, non-fiction, children’s books, you name it. A lot of those have gone into the box. I’ve hounded my friends with kids for books they don’t read anymore. And I shop thrift stores and library sales for classics and popular books I think my community should, er, would like to read.

imag1096

I only wish I hadn’t given so many of the kids’ books away before I started this project, because every time I put children’s or YA (young adult) titles in the books, they go whoosh! Gonzo.

One of the best parts of doing this has been the response from the community. My neighbourhood Facebook group has been so supportive, saying things like, “This is the kind of thing that makes a community!” I check on the library almost every day while out walking the dog, and often there are new donations. One time my friend was telling me about a book she loved, and the next day, a copy showed up in my library. There’s also a spot where I can see it from afar, and when I spy people looking inside and then taking books, it makes my day.

I have a reserve pile growing in my den of both “overstock” and thematic collections I plan to put in for holidays. I do try to keep the collection curated with some quality stuff i.e. I don’t want it to become a repository for Harlequins and dog-eared old paperbacks. I’m not trying to be a snob about it, but: my library, my rules! And the only rule really is – if it’s good and people will read it, and there’s room, it can stay.

If you’re ever in New Westminster, come visit – your book may be waiting!

imag1430