Greater Victoria Placemaking Network celebrates Bruce More, Little Free Library (LFL) Builder Extraordinaire! This fall, the 50th LFL built by More was installed at 731 Macan Place, Victoria, and is being managed by Evamarie Nikelski and Chris Weicker.
Since March of 2021, Bruce More, a retired Music Professor from the University of Victoria, has been building little free libraries.
“I started with an LFL for our driveway, then met Teale and he began to connect me with people who were interested in mounting an LFL in their neighbourhood,” says More. “A new found interest in carpentry combined with a lifelong interest in garage sales led me to expand my workshop and assemble recycled materials for my new ‘passion’.”
“The appreciation of recipients from Sooke to Sidney and up-island and the pleasure of watching the growth of this form of community spirit has continued to kindle my interest,” says More.
“I can not say enough about Bruce’s kindness and generosity. I wanted to contribute to our community by having a free library. We were able to get two libraries but I wanted more in order to offer more choice to the visitors. Imagine my amazement that there was a gentleman who not only made little libraries but also delivered them. Bruce makes creative use of recycled materials. We tried to pay him for his time and materials but he would not accept a cent. I am humbled by this man’s generosity. He teaches others how to give to the community by his quiet and unassuming actions. Bruce is a gentleman in the most awesome of ways.” – Evamarie Nikelski, Colwood Creek Park LFLs, whose LFL was Bruce’s 50th.
Little free libraries are public book boxes that operate on the principle of ‘leave a book – take a book.’ They can be found throughout the CRD in all shapes and sizes. While most share books, some specialise in a certain type of book (poetry, children’s books, French books), and there are also a growing number of LFLs sharing plants, seeds, toys, household items, board games, puzzles, art supplies, art, food, and more.
The Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (GVPN) runs the Pocket Places Project, which maps, promotes, stocks, and helps build LFLs across the CRD. This project celebrates milestones and helps supply LFLs with books. To date, the project has helped set up over 120 LFLs, and delivered over 85,000 books to LFLs across the CRD, most of them delivered by bike.
“When I first got involved in mapping little free libraries in the region, there were 111, there are now over 786,” says Teale Phelps Bondaroff, who has volunteered as the lead of the Pocket Places Project for the past seven years. “One of the challenges with the project is that the people who would like to set up and host a little free library, and the people who know how to build a little free library, are often not the same people. In this way, Bruce has been a massive help to people who would love to bring a little free library to their community, but have no idea where to start when it comes to building one.”
“I have long described little free libraries as coral reefs for community,” says Phelps Bondaroff. “It’s amazing how something as simple as a little book box can serve to build connections between people, create an identity of place, and ultimately help build community. Bruce’s dedication to little free libraries has helped foster community across the region.
“I’m proud to call myself a Little Free Librarian. Soon after moving to Victoria and joining the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network, I learned about this wide-reaching community of Little Free Library builders. Teale Phelps Bondaroff connected me with Bruce, who breathes new life into upcycled old furniture. What once was a medicine cabinet is now my beautiful, hand painted beach cabana library called the “Dive Inn”. This Little Free Library is well-loved by all ages in the neighbourhood. That’s the power of the Pocket Places Project and the network!” – Jessica Hum, GVPN Director.
“I have so appreciated our little free library and so I have neighbours in the community, who regularly deposit books. I’m always curious to see what shows up. Occasionally, there is something of interest along with a number of the best seller thriller and romance pocketbooks which I hope will be picked up by others. This was such a generous gift of time and effort!” – Phil Enns, Amherst Avenue, Sidney.
“We recently installed a Bruce More LFL and our neighbours, of all ages, have enthusiastically welcomed the addition to our neighbourhood. We have dedicated the bottom shelf to books for children and youth, and the top shelf for adults, which seems to work beautifully in our neighbourhood. We had wanted to provide an LFL in our neighbourhood for years but never seemed to have the time to construct one. Thankfully we were chosen to receive one of Bruce’s LFLs and we are very grateful!” – Shannon Battle, Hopwood Place, Colwood.
“Because I’m not known for, ahem, carpentry skills, Bruce’s generous donation of a ready-to-go library is the only way we were able to open the Epworth Street LFL. I absolutely love the fact that it’s built entirely of rescued/recycled material!” – Bruce K, community activist, Oak Bay.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have the LFL in the hallway of the Art History & Visual Studies at UVic. The response from staff so far has been one of tremendous gratitude to Bruce. The cabinet fits beautifully into a program devoted to the study of art.” – Dr. Erin Campbell, Chair, Art History & Visual Studies, and Vice-President, UVic Faculty Association.
“Bruce More made the library and I remodelled it to match our house. It has become something of a community hub. Almost every day we see someone checking it out and taking a book or stocking the shelves. We have far too few children’s books and when we have them, they go quickly.” – Diane and Giuseppe Scaletta, Dornier Road, Langford.
“Bruce built a little library to replace the one in my complex that was getting a little shaky. In exchange I gave him a stack of shingles and a scrap of plywood. A couple of weeks later I attended a choral concert and saw that Bruce is one of its sponsors!” – Pieta VanDyke, North Saanich
“Once Teale put Bruce in touch with us and he had an idea of our vision, he quietly and independently went to work. While he was busy creating we were busy asking neighbours about bringing a LFL to our neighbourhood. Once it was complete Bruce loaded up his car and he and his wife came to Galiano Island to meet up and deliver our little free library #49! Such a generous person! Thanks so much Bruce for all you Do!” – Joan Storlund, Galiano Island.
The full map of all 786+ LFLs in Victoria can be found here.