Little Libraries Becoming Big

One of the 4 Little Libray (13 Bower St) in Old Ottawa East

By Joe Paraskevas

They are simple, informal and decidedly limited in the number of items they offer.

But they represent the very ethos of the literary experience.

And they are blossoming.

Little free libraries are popping up across Old Ottawa East. They come as colourful boxes, shelves or any kind of display, placed by their owners at residential roadsides.

They hold books and magazines, randomly stacked. They ask users only to take and return materials: whether the books belong to a little library or not.

In this way, these odd little outposts – as far from the big-box, high-tech 21st century as one would think possible – speak to something inherently human: to read, to discover and to share one’s experience with others.

In OOE, there are little libraries now on Bower Street, Drummond Street, Belgrave Road and Marlowe Crescent. The stories of how they came to be are as interesting as the contents of the libraries themselves.

“We grew up in Bangalore, India,” said Vasu, who opened the Drummond Street little library with his partner, Shiv, in June. “The city had a mobile library that would drive by, once a month, to our neighbourhood. Everyone would gather up at the library spot for a couple hours and chat about books. It was a happy community space.

“But this once a month ritual just wasn’t enough,” added Vasu, who didn’t want to use his last name. “We were always so eager to lay our hands on ‘that next book,’ that we spent much of our childhood and young adult life conjuring up schemes with friends to trade and share books. Our little library idea on Drummond is simply an extension of those childhood schemes, which we are now attempting to implement as adults.”

In the short time the Drummond little library has operated, Vasu said books have come and gone briskly.

“There does not appear to be a pattern to the books that come and go, other than the fact that range of books is very diverse,” he said. “We have had comic books, some mystery, some Canadian writing – Elizabeth Hay, Carol Shields, classics – Dostoyevsky – Crime and Punishment, must reads like Catcher in the Rye and non-fiction, most unlikely of which was a book on parenting for first time fathers.”

As for the trust required for a community to run a little library – that people will treat the books with respect, Vasu said there are few, if any problems.

“We think the honour system brings out the best in most people,”he said. “We believe that everyone feels that this library belongs as much to them as anyone else in the neighbourhood. It doesn’t really matter if a book that is borrowed is not returned. In fact, the success of the library is premised on
the hope that the borrowed book will make its way elsewhere but that new books will appear in the little library. Books are meant to be shared and there is no better way to do it than through small community and neighbourhood groups.”

facebooktwitterby feather
Filed in: FP, Front Page

You might like:

A Monkey in the Central Kindgom: Local author bore witness to China’s emergence into the 20th century A Monkey in the Central Kindgom: Local author bore witness to China’s emergence into the 20th century
Sharing Lunch Interview with OOE Opera Singer Wallis Giunta Sharing Lunch Interview with OOE Opera Singer Wallis Giunta
Arrested Development in COVID’s wake Arrested Development in COVID’s wake
Footy Sevens to pay property tax on Immaculata field Footy Sevens to pay property tax on Immaculata field

Leave a Reply

You must be Logged in to post comment.

© 2020 Mainstreeter. All rights reserved. XHTML / CSS Valid.
Proudly designed by Theme Junkie.