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Who knew? Little Free Library all over

Little did we know when we put a short article and photo of the Little Free Library on Southvale Dr. in our September issue of Leaside Life that it was not alone. In fact, there are at least six more similar libraries scattered around Leaside.

It appears that Leaside’s original library, attached to a picket fence in the front yard of the Barb and James Mason house on Donlea Dr. has been there for several years. It’s in the block between Rumsey and Hanna and when I was checking  held 14 books.

That library was the inspiration for the Thursfield library, which has been up for about a month. Mary Edwards had also looked at the Little Free Library website, and was enthusiastic about continuing this concept, especially since her daughter Kate, who had always enjoyed reading, is now the associate director of the Association of Canadian Publishers. 

Out with a friend one day, Mary saw a terrarium for sale, and it seemed like the perfect start for a library. Her husband Paul did the necessary work from there, including adding four sparkling white support poles. Mary was excited when the first person stopped to look at the books, and she enjoys the friendly chats that happen as people go by, or stop to check her book stock.

There are almost-twin libraries on Donlea just west of Sutherland and on Divadale, east of Sutherland. Both were created by a contractor who was making back decks for homes there. These are big book houses – each two shelves deep, and high enough to hold picture books. They’re even painted to resemble the house they go with.

Sue Gray on Divadale got the idea about a year ago from her sister-in-law who had a library at her house on the Danforth. Sue officially registered in the winter (with littlefreelibrary.org to get on their map) and the library went up this summer. It even has ivy to grow up its post and eventually around the housing. People stopping by put books in the library, or if there isn’t room, leave them for her to re-stock later. Kids books move quickly, but the turnover of all books is surprising.

Sue’s friend on Donlea, Sherri Stevenson, has the almost-twin Little Free Library that is also officially registered. When the library was ready to be installed, her nine-year old son was appointed to be the height regulator, so that kids smaller than he could also see the books, but adults wouldn’t have to kneel either.

Sherri’s husband, Dave Cassie, said that they’re considering doing some landscaping around the library that might include a seating area for browsers. There are regular borrowers, including a man who comes by every Sunday morning asking for specific authors.

Back in South Leaside, the library house that went up in August at Parkhurst and Cameron has a notice that says “Take a book, leave a book, but close the door.”  Says everything necessary. The choices I saw ranged from Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth to Beverly Cleary’s Ramona and her Mother. I’m sure they’ll both be gone by the time you read this, but they may show up at another library later on.

My last call was on Fleming Cres., where Sarah Crane’s father was the builder. The inspiration for this one came from her parents’ home in Oakville, where there is a Little Free Library across the street. This library has a shingled roof, and is deep enough for two rows of books.

On installation day, grandfather and grandson worked together to finish the project. Sarah says that some days the library is jammed with books in the evening and nearly empty the next morning. Her children always take a look to see what’s new and their friends check it out too.

For all these libraries, their owners have reported no vandalism, and each mentioned the new people they meet and chat with and the sense of community they feel their library builds.

And the latest? A cardboard box full of books appeared briefly at the south-west corner of Donegall and Fleming.

Who knows, maybe we’ll have a guided tour of Leaside Little Free Library one day soon.