A gardener passes the new little library on her way into Laughing Willow Community Garden June 15

Garden welcomes bookworm infestation

Local resident installs little free library at Laughing Willow Community Garden

The latest bug found Laughing Willow Community Garden will not cause any damage to the vegetables, herbs and flowers growing there.

The bookworm now has a home at the Willow Point garden, thanks to the installation of a “Little Free Library” by local retiree Keith Price and his grandchildren earlier this month.

“When I first read about the little libraries in the Rotary magazine over a year ago, I realized this was something I wanted to do,” said Price, who already has an active little library installed just outside his own home on Penfield Road. “The idea is simple; a small, weatherproof box is placed handy to the street. The sign says ‘Take a book or leave a book.'”

The libraries are self-policing and self-renewing, even though there is no obligation to leave a book for each one taken.

“The community seems to take a protective and custodial role with the libraries and there has never been damage or vandalism,” Price said of his home library. “Users even come to the door to report small problems.”

The garden library has the blessing of Greenways Land Trust, which oversees the garden through a license of occupation on the City-owned lot at the corner of Simms Road and Lawton Grove.

“One of our main goals is to enable community action and promote community, and from that point of view I think it’s a good thing,” said Cynthia Bendickson of Greenways. “There’s a lot of people doing good things in the community off their own backs and we like to encourage those. It’s a good community initiative.”

The little library is Price’s second construction project at Laughing Willow Garden. Earlier this spring, he played a leading role in building an elevated garden bed for the use of mobility challenged gardeners.

The new library is made of wood, with a glass window in the door, a shake roof and a shelf to hold users’ books and other materials as they borrow or loan.

From left, Keith Price is joined by grandchildren Dominique, Elise and Grayson Lebeuf after they installed the little free library at Laughing Willow Community Garden June 6, 2015. — J.R. Rardon/Campbell River Mirror

Price’s 12-year-old granddaughter, Elise Lebeuf, painted colourful images of fruits, vegetables, vines, bees and butterflies on the white box. She and brother Grayson, 14, and sister Dominique, 10, helped Price with the installation of the library, just outside the Laughing Willow gate, on June 6.

“I plan to put in a seed exchange as well as the book exchange,” said Price, who maintains a bed in the garden.

While there have previously been informal book-sharing sites and programs, the little free library concept took root and began to spread in 2009, after Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one-room schoolhouse, filled it with books, and placed it on a post in his front yard.

Bol teamed with Rick Brooks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison to form a social enterprise project with a mission to promote literacy and love of reading while building a sense of community.

Their goal was to team with other supporters and stewards to build and place 2,510 Little Free Libraries, with official charter numbers, throughout Wisconsin and the greater Midwest. But curiosity and word of mouth, along with the creation of the littlefreelibrary.org website, caused interest to explode.

The group exceeded its goal in the summer of 2012 and at last count, there were nearly 25,000 of the tiny libraries in 70 countries worldwide.

There are 21 such libraries mapped in Victoria, and the City of Waterloo, ON, has established a program with guidelines and construction kits, with city crews installing the libraries in city parks where local groups agree to take on maintenance responsibility.

The Laughing Willow library is at least the third in Campbell River, joining the home-based libraries of Price and his cousin, Jerry Denison.

“I’ve had so many visitors that they actually wore out the grass in front of their library and I had to install paving,” Price said. “Our house is now described locally as ‘the house with the library’ and it has become something of a local landmark.”