The 500th little free library (LFL) in the CRD has been installed!
On Sunday, July 25th, Laurel Collins, Members of Parliament for Victoria, cut the ribbon and unveiled the Dragon’s Lair Neighbourhood Free Library, located at the corner of Harriet Rd. and Maddock Ave. W. in Saanich, BC. The LFL was installed by Christine Knox, a local artist whose family has lived at this address for the last 85 years. Knox and Collins were joined by members of the board of the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (GVPN).
“I have always wanted to set up a little free library as I believe that reading is a gift that can take you anywhere, to far off or created places, let you meet real or imaginary people and characters, learn about things that you didn’t know,” says Knox.
The LFL has a fantasy theme, and is painted like a tower, with a dragon’s eye on the front, and little dragons around the base. It was upcycled from an old newspaper box, donated by the Island Tides and the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (GVPN).
“The design inspiration for Dragon’s Lair came out of my love for Tolkein’s, Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. I’m also a lover of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon series, so a dragon little free library seemed only natural,” says Knox. “We will be adding surprises around the LFL in the coming months.”
“It’s heartwarming to learn that five-hundred Little Free Libraries have been created around the CRD. Community initiatives like these encourage reading, literacy and community knowledge sharing, and they enrich our neighbourhoods,” said Laurel Collins, Member of Parliament for Victoria.
Little free libraries are small public book boxes that operate on the principle of ‘leave a book – take a book’ and they can be found throughout the city in all shapes and sizes. For the past four years, the GVPN has been mapping LFLs across the CRD and celebrating milestones as part of its Pocket Places Project. This project also helps people install their own LFLs and tops up collections with fresh books. To date, the project has helped set up over 70 LFLs, and delivered close to 40,000 books to LFLs across the CRD, most of them delivered by bike.
“When I helped start this project in 2017 the goal was to reach 150 LFLs for Canada’s 150 anniversary, and we just cut the ribbon on the 450th LFL in April. The rate at which folks are installing little free libraries is astounding, and I can hardly believe that there are 500 in the Greater Victoria Area!,” says Teale Phelps Bondaroff, GVPN volunteer board member and Pocket Places Project Lead. He built and maintains the GVPNs LFL map, and also regularly circulated with a bike trailer full of books to top up LFL collections around the region.
“People in Victoria love little free libraries, and it’s not just about the joy of finding a good book, or the whimsy of discovering a new book box, it’s about community. Little free libraries help connect people not just with books, but with each other, serving as coral reefs for community. I’ve made great friendships that start with a casual encounter at a little free library!”
“Across the region, these 500 book exchanges hold over 17,000 books,” says Lorne Daniel, GVPN volunteer board member. “And their value in creating community is obvious in the many ways they become little hubs of interaction, some with benches, and water dishes for dogs, and notice boards and more.”
“It’s so exciting to see the 500th little free library installed in our region. We clearly love our books! And in addition to that, we love to make our neighbourhood streets vibrant and alive. Little Free Libraries are about far more than just books, I’ve had so many good conversations as people stop in front of our Little Free Library in Fernwood. ‘What’s in there today?’ is always a good conversation starter,” said Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria, writing before the event.
“I’m delighted to see this fabulous new look for one of Islands Tides regional newspaper’s recycled newspaper boxes. Thirty of them are now part of the little library network,” said Christa Grace-Warrick, President of Island Tides Publishing Ltd, who donated the original newspaper box.
“Little free libraries are an incredible community-led initiative in Greater Victoria and I am thrilled that we have already reached 500. In addition to promoting reading, free libraries foster a sense of community and offer an opportunity to build relationships with our neighbours,” said Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South, writing before the event.
The full map of all 500+ LFLs in Victoria can be found here.