Little Free Library Boats
(courtesy Greater Victoria Placemaking Network)

A little free initiative is marking a big noteworthy achievement.

The Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (GVPN) says the region now has 400 Little Free Libraries within its boundaries, following a new addition in late October.

Little Free Libraries are publicly accessible outdoor cabinets where users can either leave or take books, free of charge, for their personal use and enjoyment.

The movement is widely credited as starting in Wisconsin. Todd Bol of Hudson, WI built a scale model of a one-room schoolhouse in tribute to his mother, a teacher who loved reading.

Bol filled the model with books and placed it in his front yard, and the idea took off internationally.

In Victoria, the 400th Little Free Library was installed in the 100-block of Clarence St. by Esther Beauregard and her roommate Ruby.

It features a nautical theme with anchors, ships and is titled ‘Boats on the Roof’ after its decorative top. The titular boats are also mounted to spin and rock in the wind.

Boats 2
(courtesy GVPN)

“Creating a little free library was something on our minds for a while, and the events of 2020 made it easy to take advantage of time at home to build one,” says Beauregard.

“We started the building in July and used old plywood, wainscotting, ropes, and shingles for it. Ruby came up with the Boats on the Roof name because it’s a lovely Vancouver Island pun that pays homage to the ‘Goats on the Roof’ in Coombs.”

Boats on the Roof Little Free Libary
(courtesy GVPN)

GVPN says they have been mapping Little Free Libraries across the CRD for the past four years as part of their Pocket PLaces Project.

The project helps people install their own libraries and tops up collections with books. To date, GVPN says they have helped set up nearly 50 Little Free Libraries and delivered over 19,000 books across the CRD.

“We have the highest documented density of little free libraries in Canada,” says Teale Phelps Bondaroff, GVPN volunteer board member and Pocket Places Project Lead.

“The 300th was installed in June of this year, and the 350th in September. It’s inspiring to see so many people transforming the city through placemaking.”

A list and interactive map of Little Free Libraries can be found online through the GVPN website.

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