Hands up. Who loves to read?. Well, now there's a way to find and share some wonderful books without needing to go very far. Welcome to the age of the Street Library.
So, what is a street library you may ask? Street Libraries are like a large mailbox for books created at the front of your house where books can be borrowed, dropped off and shared with your neighbours. The street library Association describe them as "a symbol of trust and hope – a tiny vestibule of literary happiness". Street libraries come in all shapes and sizes from the simple to the extravagant. But they all have one thing in common – they represent the love and appreciation of reading and the joy and learning which books can bring.
Australia's street libraries are influenced by The Little Library movement formed in the United States. Founder Todd Bol installed a library inside a miniature model of a schoolhouse on his front lawn in Wisconsin as a tribute to his mother, a former teacher and bookworm. From there, the idea took off and the community movement was born.
Each library has a personalised, distinctive look and contains a range of book styles from non-fiction to children's books. Some carry the official Street Library sticker. Unlike Council libraries or book shops, these are open 24 hours a day, have no time limit to return them and are free. I went in search of some of Brisbane's best street libraries in my own local community and here are some of the ones that I found.
Jubilee Terrace, Bardon Ever noticed the disused, blue painted fridge at the base of Jubilee Terrace? It is, in fact, a street library. This very distinctive library is located just beside a bridge and is a spark of ingenuity by the owners to re-purpose a kitchen appliance into a library. How original!
The James Family, Arthur Terrace Red Hill The fire engine red Street Library of the James Family in Arthur Terrace is hard to miss. It has a personal note from the family to each visitor of their library to explain how the system of borrowing works. As well as books, there are animal figurines. My favourite part of this library was the inspiring card in the centre of the bookcase which read, "In a world where you can be anything, Choose Kind"
Logical Unsanity, Bardon This converted carport in Bardon hides a treasure trove of books. Step in and explore the range including literature, cookery, business, gardening, religion. Just about everything really. I spotted some titles by Brisbane writers Kate Morton and Venerro Armanno, internationally acclaimed Peter Carey alongside cookbooks by French TV chef Manu Fidele.
Which one was my favourite? All of them. I was left feeling that Street libraries encourage reading, are a great source of community building, and are a fun way to pass on and share the enjoyment of a book with another. If you would like to visit a street library or start one yourself, check out Street Library Australia which has information on building or buying your own as well as a map of libraries across Australia
What a fun way to make it easier for everyone to get reading.