2017-04-19

Big dreams for Little Free Libraries

by Brittany Wentzell

  • <p>BRITTANY WENTZELL PHOTO</p><p>Katherine Kelley, Olivia Hiltz, Abigail Maguire, Bridget Veinotte, Lily Lambert, Haley Bruhm and Hannah Allen, members of St. James Church Girls, gave a presentation to Mahone Bay council on April 12. Amy McCharles, not pictured, was taking a video.</p>
  • <p>BRITTANY WENTZELL PHOTO</p><p>Haley Bruhm, Lily Lambert, Abigail Maguire, Hannah Allen, and Bridget Veinotte during their elaborate presentation to council.</p>

Though she be but little, she is fierce.

The words of Shakespeare could be used to describe the young women who visited Mahone Bay council last week armed with an idea and an ambitious presentation.

The girls youth group at St. James Church wants to build Little Free Libraries around Mahone Bay. The girls made a presentation to council that included actors and even audience plants to help highlight their big idea.

Little Free Libraries started in the United States in 2009 with one man in Wisconsin who set up a library the size of a dollhouse in his yard where neighbours could take, borrow or leave books for others.

The goal of the little library movement is to provide the public with 24/7 access to literature, especially to those who may be unable to get to a library or unable to afford books.

"The girls are hoping it improves access to books to people," said Tara Maguire, one of the leaders of the youth group.

Mahone Bay does not have a library, although it does have access to a book mobile.

The idea is simple enough, but the girls sought the permission of council first before erecting their own Free Little Libraries. The plan is to have some on municipal property, and although the small cabinets may seem harmless, there have been reports in the media where the libraries were taken down due to municipal bylaws.

But councillors in Mahone Bay seemed impressed by the idea and granted permission for them to install the libraries. Councillor Simone Chia-Kangata told the group that as part of the natural playground committee, she would love to see one near or at the park.

The girls have proposed five places, including the gazebo on the waterfront, next to The Barn, the natural playground, the Anglican Church and the Legion.

"We've been asked to make a presentation at the Legion," said Maguire.

The girls came up with the idea at the beginning of the school year after deciding to take part in community engagement projects. They pitched their idea to the South Shore Awesome Foundation, which awarded them $1,000 a few weeks ago. That will purchase the materials, or so Maguire hopes; the group didn't expect to build five right off the bat.

"It's just a matter of if we can stretch out the money for the material," said Maguire.

Maintenance of the libraries will be left to the group, though there will be adult volunteers to help out. Maguire says the locations will have enough eyes on them to keep the libraries from potentially being vandalized.

The girls are now working on a book drive to fill the little libraries, which they hope to build by June.

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