Free books are the word on the street

Free street libraries springing up on front yard fences, garden verges, parks and schools are delighting Sydneysider’s who want to borrow or share books.

Located outside residential properties and schools in local neighbourhoods, the recyclable, wooden boxes of donated books are an open invitation for the community to borrow and share books.

City of Sydney CEO, Monica Barone, said the project, backed by the City of Sydney, aims to advance literacy, increase community engagement through the sharing of books and make our streets more interesting.

“We’re delighted to support the Street Libraries program that gives people the opportunity to meet each other and share experiences over the simple act of donating or borrowing books, thus building trust and collaboration across the community,” Ms Barone said.

“Street Libraries can be installed and distributed to community groups and individuals across the local area for anyone who wants to be involved.”

Street Library 1

The City supports workshops once a month at 107 Projects in Redfern that provide advice on building and installing Street Libraries. The session includes the provision of all materials needed to create a weatherproof bookcase as well as hints and tips for making the best out of the Street Library.

Nic Lowe, Founder of Street Library Australia, said the street library movement’s motto is ‘Take a book, give a book, share a book.’

“Street Libraries are a window into the mind of a community, as books come and go. There’s no checking books in or out; instead, people are free to take a book, read it, keep it for as long as they like and then return it to the Street Library network, or pass them on to friends,” Mr Lowe said.

“If anyone has a book or two that they think others would enjoy, they can just pop it into any Street Library they happen to be walking past.

“They are a symbol of trust and hope – a tiny vestibule of literary happiness!”

Street Library 3

Street Library, a registered incorporated not-for-profit charity, received a matching grant from the City in 2015 to set up the Australian-based free library movement.

Since the program launched in Sydney in November 2015, 100 Street Libraries have been installed across local neighbourhoods, including on people’s front fences, garden verges, parks and schools. The project aims to reach 500 Street Libraries across Australia in the next three years.

Residents, schools and other community groups interested in obtaining a Street Library can build their own at one of the workshops, download DIY instructions or purchase a ready-made box built by a local men’s shed from Street Library Australia’s website.