Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Little Free Libraries take off in Victoria as 500th library installed


A dragon’s lair has taken root in Saanich.

But neighbours don’t have to be afraid; this dragon is hoarding treasures of the literary kind.

It’s the newest Little Free Library in Victoria, and it is also marking an incredible milestone: the 500th library installed in the CRD.

That figure is based on tracking information from the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (GVPN), which began mapping Little Free Libraries in the area in 2016.

The libraries are essentially small cabinets with space for people to either leave books for others or to take books out. Anyone is free to take or leave whatever books they want.

Little Free Libraries have exploded across Victoria since 2016, with especially rapid growth in 2020. In April, the GVPN marked 450 libraries, and only two months later, they now have 500.

It was a pace of growth that caught the notice of Teale Phelps Bondaroff, a board member of GVPN.

“In the time it took for me to set up this event, eight more libraries were built,” said Phelps Bondaroff.

“I think I have two more emails in my inbox. People in Victoria love libraries, and there’s good reason for that. Little Free Libraries don’t just spread books, but they help build community, and they create space for people to meet.”

The newest box, located in Saanich at the corner of Harriet Rd. and Maddock Ave. W., is the creation of Christine Knox.

Little Free Library Dragon's Lair
Photo by Tim Ford

A fan of classic fantasy literature, she nicknamed and styled her Little Free Library the “Dragon’s Lair.”

“I have been a huge Anne McCaffrey fan in my life, and I also love any kind of stuff about dragons,” said Knox.

“The box itself reminded me of a tower. That was my kind of my shooting off point.”

She built her library out of an old Island Tides newsletter box, and painted with chalk paint before detailing it with acrylic, trims, and hand-painted dragon figures.

The whole project took her about two days’ of work. Knox says she her family has lived in the same house at the corner for 85 years and four generations, and she wanted to install something for her neighbours.

“I’ve always loved books and reading is a huge part of my life, and I want to foster that in other people, both children and adults alike,” said Knox.

“Plus it also gives me an opportunity to be able to talk to neighbors and interact with them when they come to check out the library.”

Little Free Library ribbon
L-R: Teale Phelps Bondaroff, Christine Knox, Laurel Collins | Photo by Tim Ford

One of those neighbours is Victoria federal MP Laurel Collins, who was on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sunday to mark the occasion of the 500th Little Free Library.

Collins recently gave birth to a daughter, Alora, and says that these installations are an important part of building literacy for the next generation.

“Books open up worlds for kids,” she says. “I remember growing up and books were just such an important part of fostering imagination and play.”

As Little Free Libraries continue their rapid expansion, Collins added that communities are also exploring other opportunities for shared spaces and facilities.

These include things like seed libraries or community refrigerators to help disadvantaged people with food security.

“Those kind of projects actually have started I think in big part because of the success of the little libraries,” said Collins.

No word yet on if those other projects will also be protected by dragons.

Tim Ford
Tim Ford
Digital staff writer with Victoria Buzz

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