Like tulips in the Springtime, ‘little libraries’ are popping up around neighbourhoods in Waterloo Ontario. These pint-sized community builders have a lot of people buzzing about where they come from, how they work and where to find them in Waterloo. For a current list of where to find these in the neighbourhoods in Waterloo Ontario, scroll to the end of the article.

What is a Little Library?

Simply put, these little libraries are a small book exchange that are sponsored by private citizens, or (like in the case of Eastbridge) a community association. They look like birdhouses on a neighbour’s front lawn, but look closer and you’ll see used books that are (wait for it) FREE to take. Neighbourhoods in Waterloo Ontario that have these are seeing an increase in community spirit while encouraging reading during the summer months and recycling of used books.

The protocol is this: take a book that interests you, read it, return it. When you return it, add a book or two from your own collection that you want to share. Some little libraries even offer a chalk board or dry erase board to write down requests (“Anyone have Fly Guy Books? –Ethan”).  The libraries are as diverse as their creators, with different colors, styles and features. One clever Stratford  little library even put out adirondack chairs on their lawn to encourage neighbours to sit and browse through the books.

This little library in Stratford provides adirondack chairs for neighbours who are browsing their books (Eric Young/Facebook)

But all the libraries accomplish the same thing: neighbours connecting with each other, sharing without thought of repayment and making reading a community initiative. The little library concept has become so popular in Waterloo that the city of Waterloo has built several and will be installing them around Waterloo Park.

Interested in building your own?

It’s not as hard as you think, thanks to a group of volunteers called Little Libraries of KW (www.llkw.ca).  This group offers free building plans, “Build days” to gather and build your library with others in the community and an active Facebook page with many fellow little library enthusiasts from Waterloo.

One Facebook fan, Sarah Boyd of Waterloo had this to say about the new little library that appeared in Eastbridge this week: “It’s fantastic. My 5 year old has a broken wrist and is limited at the playground right now, so we’ve enjoyed reading books from the little library at the park! She just runs back and forth getting new books to read.”

Once it’s built, how do you spread the word?

A great international website that is tracking the movement of these little libraries around the globe is littlefreelibrary.org. The site has an interactive map where you can register your library. Schools in Waterloo Ontario love this idea, so ask your school principal to include your library in their school newsletter. Of course spread the word on social media, but also use low tech methods like a flyer on the community mailbox to help get the word out. Or make a party out of your launch and host a tea party on the lawn with the kids.

Where are the little libraries in the neighbourhoods in Waterloo Ontario?

According to Little Free Library, here are the little libraries in Waterloo:

Columbia Forest: 650 Butternut Avenue

Uptown Waterloo: 69 Norman Street

Laurelwood: 402 Cavendish Drive/502 Beaverwood Street

Lexington: 371 Strawberry Crescent/333 Carriage House Court

Clair Hills: 788 Klosters Drive

Westmount: 113 Roslin Avenue S.

Maple Hills: 222 Alexandra Avenue

Eastbridge: Whitecap Avenue, 512 Little Dover Crescent

If you discover another (or create your own) little library in Waterloo, let us know and we’ll add it to this post.

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