Libraries are a neighbourhood hub of activity where we meet others in our community, find resources, and connect over shared interests and passions. Libraries are places where ideas find shape, gather momentum, and turn into action. At the Chestermere Library you will find children clapping along to a song, teens studying, seniors working on computers, and parents finding new recipes for supper. My own father-in-law discovered our local library for the first time and said excitedly, “did you know that all these things have been right here all along? It’s like a little treasure.”
While some might be rediscovering their local library, with books, magazines, films, and even video games to borrow, some neighbourhoods have created other kinds of libraries that are bringing people together.
Little Free Libraries, for example, are a way for people to share books from their own front porch, and you may have even see some of them around town. These are often little book shelters, or cabinets, that serve to protect a little treasure trove of books available to all. Neighbours are invited to take a book and leave a book; it’s a kind of book exchange and I’ve stopped to snoop in a few of them. Anyone can set up a little free library and inspire reading wherever you live.
Tool Libraries are inspiring people to come together and repair their communities. The Saint John Tool Library in Saint John, NB is a storefront organization where, for a small annual membership, anyone can borrow tools. This has inspired people to start businesses, fix their home, or even come together for a work bee to help those in need.
Seed Libraries are an innovative way to help communities grow, literally. The Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library is, for example, a place where people can borrow seeds, and then, after a growing season, replenish the seeds that they have collected from their bounty. The community is learning the art of harvesting seeds, and together gardeners are creating a new way to share skills all while making their city a more beautiful and fruitful place.
It is out of this growing sense of generosity and creativity that even more libraries are popping up. Toy libraries, board game and puzzle libraries, recreational equipment, science projects, even museum passes and Santa costumes are all being loaned out to others.
All of these kinds of libraries share one thing in common: we have plenty to share and living open-handedly is actually deeply rewarding. Making hand-painting boxes and signs that let your neighbours know you have something to share is a gift to those around you. We have been given so much and helping others to enjoy what we have is one of the most deeply rewarding things we can offer. So whether you find your way down to our local library, or go hunting for one of our other little free libraries, may you discover the delight of connecting with others and growing in new and unexpected ways.