I looove children's books and I believe in a circular economy. We consume a lot of books, there are some books that we will keep forever but we also have children's books that we donate each year, some that my children have grown out of and some that just didn't land as I'd hoped. Since arriving in Sydney I have been searching for a convenient place to donate our children's books and I stumbled upon Street Libraries.
Street Libraries aren't just for donating, we can take a book too!! Honestly, what a wonderful idea. I haven't lived anywhere previously that had a Street Library nearby. Here in Sydney I have walked past two in our neighbourhood. I searched on the Street Libraries map (AU) and found there are another two Street Libraries nearby, one is only a street back from our usual walk and the other is a street back from our favourite (walkable) cafe. So with no extra effort we could visit two Street Libraries on our almost daily walks and there are a total of four within a ten minute walk.
The Street Libraries near us have been full of adult with some junior fiction books. Today we borrowed a cook book and a poetry book. Neither aimed at children but still so nice. The thing is both are books that I would not have usually chosen, but it's given us something different to read, possibly widening our knowledge and language base.
Visiting the Street Libraries in our area was also an intelligence gathering exercise as I really want to establish our own Street Library, but more than that, I want to establish a Children's Street Library, full of fantastic board, picture and story books. Of course I can't regulate what people put in the library but I intend on curating the collection, recycling, rotating and creating themes, poetry books for National Poetry Week for example. I'm so excited by the idea!
I'm still looking at wooden and waterproof libraries. We will need to paint it and install it. I am not set on the location. We have limited street frontage and we have services we need to be careful around. We live at the end of a cul-de-sac but we get a lot of family foot traffic as people pass through to a nearby park and to the local school. I've spoken to my direct neighbours and they are supportive and encouraging!
My Children's Street Library will need to be clearly signed so that from a distance it is clear that it has children's books. It needs to be low enough that children can reach. You can see the images here of two Street Libraries in our neighbourhood and two year old Otto can reach the bottom shelf in both, although I want to make ours a little lower. I like the libraries with a transparent door, they look more approachable and you see the books with a quick look. The shelves also need to accommodate picture books which are often taller than novels.
I've seen Street Libraries that also have puzzles, DVDs, seeds and some in recent times where people are sharing food. What about COVID? Some libraries are wrapping books, others offer sanitiser and wipes. It is suggested that the virus will remain on cardboard for 24 hours, so besides washing our hands after touching the book we can also leave the book for a day.
I am sold on the idea. Now to make it happen!
Here are a few Street Libraries that I adore:
This one at a Montessori School! ❤️
Why not have one that matches your house?
This one is full of children's books.
And these for children!
This is also a good, recent article at the Sydney Morning Herald: 'Tiny vestibules of happiness': street libraries help bind community ties. "At a time when so much of our lives have become digitised, these tiny vestibules of literary happiness are able to surprise and delight the lives of those who stumble across them and the books that line their shelves."
Places to follow:
- Little Street Library Love
- Free Little Library (US) & on Instagram
- Street Library (AU) + map to find a Street Library near you & Instagram
If you have a Street Library or Free Little Library please give me your advice!!
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