Members of the Rotary Club of Sarnia-Lambton After Hours have launched an initiative aimed at encouraging a love of literacy among residents while creating closer communities.
Earlier this year, Rotarians got in touch with Literacy Lambton with the idea of building and installing Little Free Libraries in strategic locations across Sarnia.
In 2021, Literacy Lambton received a Sarnia Community Foundation Resiliency Grant, with the purpose of launching a post-pandemic program that would promote awareness of Little Free Library book exchanges, grow interest in their stewardships, and help build community around literacy.
Over the past several years, Little Free Libraries – free, book-sharing boxes where people can take a book or share a book – have been growing in number across Lambton County.
With one of Rotary’s areas of focus being ‘supporting education’, after reading a story about Little Free Libraries in Sarnia This Week, club members decided the idea of building and installing a number of these pint-sized book repositories would be right up their alley .
“We received tremendous interest following the story,” said Literacy Lambton executive director Tracy Pound in a statement. “Groups and individuals came forward wanting to be involved. A number of efforts are coming together; each with their own spin. Spoiler alert: More than just flowers will be popping up this spring in Lambton County, seeding the love of literacy for years to come.”
The Rotary Sarnia-Lambton After Hours club was the first to ask Literacy Lambton how they could get involved, and employing the skills of several of their more ‘handy’ members, the club built five Little Free Libraries.
At the same time Rotary was speaking with Literacy Lambton, one aspiring Little Free Library steward, Dela Horley, asked Pound if it was possible to get someone to install one in the front yard of her O’Rae Street home.
“A while ago I initially happened to see a little free library on Cathcart Boulevard, and I didn’t know if that was a personal project. I thought it was a great idea, so I started looking into it but forgot about it after a while. Then when I moved here (to O’Rae St.),” Horley said. “I saw the article about little free libraries in Sarnia This Week and I spoke with Tracy (Pound) from Literacy Lambton and they hooked me up with Rotary.”
Club president Deborah Renaud-McDermott said the members were happy to oblige Horley’s request.
“Promoting literacy is one of Rotary’s seven areas of focus, so that was certainly one of the major reasons,” Renaud-McDermott added with a grin. “But we’re a hands-on group of people, we also like to get our hands dirty.”
Led by Rotarian Bob Bork, known to club members as ‘Bob the Builder’, Rotary put together five Little Free Libraries and installed one at Horley’s O’Rae street home in April.
Three more Little Free Libraries are in the process of being installed or will be installed shortly, Renaud-McDermott said: one at Sarnia-Lambton Rebound (the Dow Center for Youth), one on Beach Lane and another one in Cathcart Park.
The club also plans on giving their fifth and final Little Free Library away. Until April 24, the club is inviting residents interested to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org letting the club know why they want to be a Little Free Library steward. The club will pick the winner at the end of the month and then install it for free.
For her part, Horley said she was thrilled with the newly-built Little Free Library Rotarians gave her. She hopes the library will engage and inspire people in the neighbourhood.
“For me, we’ve always had so many books at home and we encouraged our kids to read – we read to them a lot,” she said. So I would just hope that people come by, whether they’re people who just want something to do on a Saturday, there are all sorts of books in here they can borrow – lifestyle books, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, everything. ”
“I just hope they take a book, enjoy it, and maybe pass it on to somebody else.”