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Pop-up libraries would connect community
New Westminster’s two public libraries could soon become six.
But the new libraries won’t have walls or shushing attendants. Borrowing a book from them won’t require a card.
Alexa Bennett Fox and her brothers Quentin and Isaac want to place four pop-up libraries around the city. Their proposal is one of six finalists for a ONE Prize, a $2,000 grant that is awarded by the River Market and Donald’s Market to three projects that help build community.
The little libraries would consist of windowed boxes with peaked roofs erected on poles. The books would be left in the boxes by contributors looking to share a favourite novel or lighten the load of their own collections.
The idea, said Alexa, is to bring people together through the act of sharing.
“You’re investing in the people who pick up the book,” said the North Vancouver teacher who’s from New West. “You get a better sense of your neighbours and what makes them tick and what they care about” from the types of books left in the libraries.
Alexa’s experienced that sense of connection through books herself. She often visits similar pop-up libraries along Vancouver’s Commercial Drive. She occasionally checks in on the ongoing history of an Iris Murdoch novel she once found on a bus on her way to UBC that had been left there with a note from its contributor and a link to a website that tracks its travels. When she finished the novel, she left it on another bus for someone to find.
“It was an unfamiliar, private but magic moment that can continue when you have something to give,” said Alexa.
She’s enlisted her younger brothers, both students at New West secondary school, to bring the project to fruition. Quentin, the handyman of the trio, will design and build the boxes.
They hope to find residents who will agree to host the libraries on their front lawns so they’ll be cared for. And they’re looking to place them in different neighbourhoods.
“The public libraries aren’t always within walking distance,” said Alexa. “This creates a reason to walk and for people to come into contact with each other.”
• To learn more about the ONE prize as well as links to all six finalists, go to www.rivermarket.ca/community/oneprize.