In 2017 I discovered a brilliant organisation called StreetLibrary.org. Their mission is to have over 5000 Street Libraries across Australia by 2021.
With so many rubbish things happening in the world, I felt like here was a beautiful gift to my neighbourhood that would share my joy of reading and enhance my community. Over the past year there’s been a steady stream of book swapping action and so to celebrate the first birthday of my street library in Brisbane, Australia, here are five reasons street libraries make the world a better place.
1 – Having a street library in your neighbourhood will lower the crime rate. Okay, I have no idea if this is actually true. But think about it – a group of readers aren’t called a Gang, they’re called a Bookclub.
2 – Street libraries weave books into the fabric of the community – parks, trees, bus stops, street libraries…
3 – Most people have books sitting on their shelves that they will never read again but don’t want to throw away. Donating them to a street library gives these books another opportunity to be read.
4 – People stop and chat about the books they love. As a society we’re talking to our neighbours less as we hurry about our busy lives, the street library gives people in the community a reason to strike up a conversation.
5 – I love libraries. I think they are magical places and librarians do a fantastic job. There are some people however who would never set foot in a library. Maybe they were told they were stupid as a child and feel intimidated by them, maybe they have an outdated view of libraries as quiet, solemn places, or maybe they’re homeless. These people, who would never visit a library, might choose a book from their non-threatening, accessible street library.
If you love books and live in a house or apartment where plenty of foot traffic goes passed your home, I’d encourage you to consider setting up your own street library. It’s easy – and who doesn’t love getting new books at the end of their driveway?!
To read more information about street libraries please check out streetlibrary.org.au if you’re in Australia or littlefreelibrary.org if you’re in the USA. I’d be keen to hear of any other organisations you know about too, or if you have your own street library please let me know how you engage with your local community.