Since August 2017, the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network’s Pocket Places Project has been delivering books to little free libraries (LFLs) around the region, and this week, project lead Teale Phelps Bondaroff added the 50,000th book to a LFL. A copy of Chris Hadfield’s ‘An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth,’ was left in the Republic of North Park Little Free Library on Queens Ave. Victoria.
The Pocket Places Project, which was established with the support of a City of Victoria ‘My Great Neighbourhood Grant,’ helps stock, map, and build LFLs around the CRD. These little boxes of books, built and installed by members of the public and community groups, operate on the principle of ‘leave a book – take a book.’ To date, the project has helped build and install over 75 LFLs and mapped out the 576 LFLs in the region, which has the highest documented density of LFLs in Canada. The LFLs in the CRD can be found as far west as Jordan River, to the top of the Saanich Peninsula, and the GVPN will soon be expanding its map to include the Gulf Islands.
Volunteer project lead and GVPN board member Teale Phelps Bondaroff regularly cycles around the region, delivering books to LFLs with a bike trailer. Over the course of the project, he has made close to 2,400 visits to individual LFLs. Since the start of the pandemic, the GVPN has also helped distribute books to people with their own LFLs and to volunteers who deliver them to LFLs in their neighbourhoods. These books have been generously donated by Russell Books and Sorensen Books, two local bookstores.
“I’m constantly blown away by the growth of our region’s little free library network. When we started the Pocket Places Project, there were already 111 LFLs in the region, and now we have over 576 LFLs and an amazing community of people who keep these little book boxes topped up,” says Phelps Bondaroff. “In addition to sharing books, we now have little free libraries that share toys, art and art supplies, poetry, non-perishable food, household items, seeds, and plants!”
“The Pocket Places Project delivered its 20,000th book in February of this year. The reason we have been able to distribute and deliver so many books in 2021 is thanks to generous donations from local bookstores,” says Phelps Bondaroff. “Russell Books and Sorensen Books have been incredibly helpful, contributing books that can’t be sold but are still great to read.”
“Russell Books is extremely grateful for this wonderful relationship that allows us to give back to the community and make books available for all,” says Andrea Minter, Owner of Russell Books. “We are very thankful for the hard work that Teale and the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network are doing to foster goodwill throughout the Capital region. We look forward to the continued growth and success of the little library network.”
“It’s been a pleasure to donate a wide selection of duplicates to Greater Victoria Placemaking Network. A big thank you to Teale and his ‘bike that could’ who distributes them around the city,” says Cathy Sorensen, owner of Sorensen Books. “Making reading accessible, breaking down barriers and building community is what little free libraries are all about.”
“The little free library in front of my house is a fascinating window into our neighbourhood; what our neighbours are reading, and what they are willing to share/pass along. Because we are a high rental neighbourhood, the end of the month is particularly interesting,” says Jenny Farkas, who manages the Republic of North Park Little Free Library. “As one of the first handful of book box hosts, it’s incredible and inspiring to see the network grow to almost 600. Huge congratulations to Teale and the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network for distributing 50,000 books!!”