Clayton’s latest — and littlest — libraries are now open with the aim of bringing residents living in the area closer together.
Dozens of families gathered at Katzie Elementary for story times, activities and a pancake breakfast on Monday to celebrate the arrival of the neighbourhood libraries. The little houses will be peppered throughout Clayton Heights and stocked with donated books ranging in topics from self-help and fiction to children’s literature and mysteries for adults.
United Way has been working with a team of volunteers to set up book nooks throughout Clayton for the past six months. The organization’s director of social impact, Kim Winchell, told the Reporter residents or those simply interested in taking part in the program are invited to help themselves to the books.
“The idea is give a book, take a book,” Winchell said. “There will be seven [libraries] launched all over Clayton today and another seven in the next few months.”
The idea behind the project is to promote literacy, and also to create connections between neighbours. At an October town hall, it was noted that although the Clayton area was built as an intentional community, many people who live in the area feel isolated or disconnected from their neighbours.
| Little Libraries Map
“Even though we’re right beside each other in this community, we’re not talking, we’re not connecting and so the little library is a way for people to come onto each other’s properties and to not just get a book, but to connect with each other,” Winchell added.
Jeannie Kilby, president of the CUPE Local 402, said volunteers from the union built the libraries after United Way reached out and asked the Local if it would like to get involved in the project. Though the libraries are set up on tables in front of hosts’ houses for now, the union’s volunteers will soon go back and finish installing them — the recent turn of bad weather put the project temporarily on hold.
“We actually had our city carpenter build the library boxes using repurposed materials from some left-over city projects, so we didn’t have to go buy new materials,” Kilby said. “We haven’t actually done anything like this before. This is new for us as city workers.”
Shannon Stumph, a corporate event planner, has been living in Clayton Heights for 12 years and hosts one of the libraries across from Starr Park on 193 Street. She and her work partner decided to get involved after reading an article about people feeling disconnected from others in the community.
“We wanted to bring our love for our neighbours to everybody else,” Stumph told the Reporter. “I know there’s some great areas and people that are close and I know some people that don’t their neighbours very well.”
The neighbourhood library project, she said, is an initiative that will connect people with one another.
—with files from Samantha Anderson