For the past few years, small street libraries have been appearing under shop eaves and on street corners all over the country. They are part of a nation-wide movement to encourage literacy and community, and to motivate people to engage with their community in a positive way.
Street Library is the vision of Newtown resident, Nic Lowe. In November 2015, Nic built a small library outside his Macdonald Street home. Around the same time, he gave a prototype to Dan Miles who installed it in Stanmore. The movement quickly took off, and libraries began popping up everywhere. By mid-2018 there were an estimated 1,200 around the country, with 791 of those registered with Street Libraries Australia, now a registered not-for-profit charity.
The organisation has big plans, which include being a self-sufficient revenue source by selling libraries to those who do not want to build them and hosting workshops for those who want to learn how to build them. It aims to have 5,000 Street Libraries across the country by December 2021.
Books have the power to transport people to a different world, experience the impossible, and unlock people’s potential. These small libraries can often be portals into a world of opportunity not otherwise available. The impact on a child who has no books at home, but who has access to a Street Library, is enormous.
In August 2018, Evolve Housing officially launched Sydney’s first ever community housing Street Library in one of their resident blocks. The project, the first of many, was inspired by one of the block’s residents who said to an Evolve staff member: “if you teach the kids to read, you give them the key to the kingdom.”
Thanks to the Street Library organisation and their wonderful little boxes of books, both adults and children now have keys to the kingdom all over the country.
Do you have a Street Library in your neighbourhood? Would you like one?