IF the saying “a house without books is like a body without a soul” holds weight, a growing community initiative could be just what’s needed to reignite neighbourliness – and reading.
Dollhouse-like free libraries are popping up on fencelines across Australia, part of a growing international movement that originated in the United States.
“Street libraries are, essentially, a box of books, planted in your (or your neighbour’s) front yard, accessible from the street,” Street Library Australia founder Nic Lowe told The Senior.
“Books come and go; no one needs to check them in or out. People can simply reach in and take what interests them; when they are done, they can return them to the Street Library network, or pass them on to friends.
“They are a symbol of trust and hope and a tiny vestibule of literary happiness.”
One of the newest to join the Street Library Australia network is the handiwork of bank executive and keen reader Craig Campbell in the Brisbane suburb of Ashgrove.
He scavenged building materials from a demolition yard and started rifling through the family bookshelves to kick off “Piddington Pages” collection with a small mix of adult fiction and non-fiction, and a couple of children’s books.
A letterbox drop in surrounding streets introducing the concept and inviting borrowing brought an abundance of books and has forged new acquaintances.
“My wife says ‘reuse, reduce, recycle, reread’,” said Craig, a fan of historic-based novels and biographies.
“Ours is a throwaway society. Our household does what it can to counter that.
“We’ve also heard a lot about the demise of the printed word and Australian publishing through developments like e-books andAustralia government publishing policies.
“I like my iPhone and all it does but there’s something about holding a book and reading it that can’t be replaced.”
How long do you persevere with a new author’s book? Some of us will commit to reading a book, cover to cover, even if it’s agony.
Some will make a decision within a page or two.
Mr Lowe abides by his mum’s rule: “Take away your age from 100. That’s how many pages you need to read before you can decide not to read it further. The older you get, the fewer you have to read. Eventually I hope to just look at the cover and decide!”
- Find out if there’s a Street Library near you, or how to be a part of the initiative yourself, www.streetlibrary.org.au