Sidney residents beam during opening of newest free little library

Geri Holland put Melville’s “Moby Dick” on top of her gray winter coat, almost all smiles. A few minutes ago, she was one of the first to pick up books from the new free little library on Sydney’s Third Street opening on November 2, just a short walk from her Wakefield Manor apartment.

“I love it because I always go to them (the little library),” she said. The nearest small library is on the other side of Beacon Boulevard until it opens on November 2. Now, she can indulge her reading habit simply by walking down from her apartment. For Holland, that proximity made all the difference while recovering from what she described as a severe fall.

Robert Duquette, who also lives in the same apartment as Holland and helped build it as part of the team behind the library, says it will improve the quality of life for residents. “We have a lot of readers here and they’re going to love this,” he said. “It gives them the opportunity to pick up a book and give it back.”

More than half of the 24 people living in nearby apartments use walkers or wheelchairs to get around, he said, noting that the local branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library is not convenient for residents. “It’s really, really going to be convenient.”

The newly opened small library joins three other libraries (Central Saanich Pioneer Park, North Saanich Jubilee Park and Cordova Bay Elementary School) due to the earlier opening of the Saanich Peninsula Literacy Association in the area, Two other libraries are planned to open in the future.

The library will also create a sense of community, Duquette said, pointing to a bench next to the small library. He said the presence of the library would encourage more people to stop and talk in that place. “Any community project like this is going to get people involved,” he said.

Shantael Sleight, the Saanich Peninsula Literacy Association’s outreach coordinator, who co-sponsored the project with association board member Jennifer Van Es, said the new library would link to a map maintained by the Greater Victoria area.

Not only does the project align with the society’s mission to make literacy accessible to all ages, Sleight said, but it also helps form partnerships with groups like Beacon Community Services and the SHOAL Senior Center.

As such, it helps raise awareness of the importance of literacy, she said.

Slegg donated materials in Sidney and Central Saanich, Bay Street Castle Building Centre, Lowe’s (Langford), Home Hardware Sidney, Russell Nursery and Peninsula Landscape Supplies, and Duquette and SHOAL center volunteer Jim Wood built the library themselves.

Individuals can donate books directly to personal free libraries, or place them at SHOAL centers.

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