The 600th little free library (LFL) in the CRD was installed in Oak Bay this weekend. It was built and installed by Sidney Hurst, a grade 12 Oak Bay High student, as part of her final year project. Dubbed ‘Bowker Creek Books,’ this LFL can be found along the Bowker Creek Walkway, between the Tennis Bubble at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre and the running track. It is in close proximity to Oak Bay High’s outdoor classroom in the recently restored and daylighted Bowker Creek nature area.
Grade 12 students at Oak Bay High must complete a self-directed Capstone Project, which has them being together all of their learning into a passion project. These projects can involve research, developing a new skill, or assembling a portfolio. For her Capstone Project, Ms. Hurst decided to research, build, and install a little free library for her community.
“For my capstone I wanted to do something to not only share my passion for reading, but also give back to the community,” said Ms. Hurst. “I think little free libraries are such a cool concept not only because of how they provide books and benefit communities, but also how they promote sustainability, and those aspects combined inspired me to build a little free library as my final project.”
“Embracing the concept of placemaking within the school community was a really great experience for me, and I tried to keep that top of mind when designing and installing the little free library,” said Ms. Hurst. “The location along the restored section of Bowker creek was perfect for this, as it has become such a vibrant and accessible green space for the school and the broader community, and I hope my project will serve to further enhance that community space.”
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 CRD in all shapes and sizes. For the past five years, the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (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 75 LFLs, and delivered close to 57,000 books to LFLs across the CRD, most of them delivered by bike.
“Little free libraries are like bird feeders or coral reefs, they create places for people to meet and interact, something that is critical to building and strengthening community,” said Teale Phelps Bondaroff, GVPN volunteer board member and Pocket Places Project Lead. “I’ve had a good number of friendships start with a chance encounter at a little free library. As we see more little free libraries spreading throughout the region, we create more spaces for community to flourish.”
“It’s Inspiring to see the creativity of people in the region,” said Phelps Bondaroff, who maintains the GVPNs LFL map and tops up about 30 LFLs around the region by bike each week. “There is such a marvellous diversity of little free libraries around the region. Not only are there little free libraries dedicated to children’s books and poetry, but we now have a growing number of little seed libraries, boxes for puzzles, art supplies, toys and household items, plants, and more!”
“Little Free Libraries, which I use regularly, are a great example of placemaking. They not only provide a great service, they connect people, support a culture of generosity, and bring joy to everyone, even those only walking by admiring their design,” said Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch.
“I am so glad to see Sidney leading the work to build the 600th little free library while in high school. Books can take you all over the world and back in time without moving an inch, and that’s one reason why it’s so important that we encourage young people to build habits and an appreciation for reading and literacy. Thank you to everyone involved in this valuable work in our community,” said Murray Rankin, MLA Oak Bay – Gordon Head.
The full map of all 600+ LFLs in Victoria can be found here, and this particularly LFL can be found here: