VPL’s Welcome Back Week and neighbourhood DIY libraries
By Sophie Isbister, Life & Style Editor
Despite being born and raised in Vancouver, and living here most of my life, I don’t visit the Vancouver Public Library (VPL). As a book lover, I really should; the library has a lot to offer these days. In addition to events like book readings and author Q-and-A’s, the library also carries much new media, such as DVDs, video games, and ebooks. But my library aversion stems from my deep shame: I have racked up probably a billion dollars in late fees and missing books.
So you can imagine what a relief it was to hear that VPL is hosting a Welcome Back Week. The CBC reports that from October 21 to 27, VPL “will waive late return fines for anyone bringing back long-overdue items.” The article also says that the friendly librarians will try to come up with an arrangement for missing books—but you have to go directly to a librarian, and I anticipate that it will be fairly busy with legions of scatterbrained Vancouverites clamouring to return their forgotten and unread copies of War and Peace.
Why is the VPL doing this? They want people to read! What is the point of having a huge library if people are kept away by financial woes?
Libraries are making a huge comeback—despite the growing popularity of ebooks—and it’s not just the classic, brick and mortar libraries that are seeing a resurgence. Smaller, do-it-yourself, neighbourhood libraries are cropping up in the form of Little Free Libraries. According to littlefreelibrary.org, “a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share.” There are a few in my Vancouver neighbourhood: one, a mere block away from my house, looks like a tiny red phone booth. Another mini-library, not affiliated with Little Free Library, exists along the 10th Avenue bike path in Vancouver. Check out their website to see if there is one near you!
These libraries contain whatever books are donated by people in the neighbourhood—a great way to get rid of books and exchange them for new ones. The boxes can be as small or as large as the space allows, but either way, they are bursting with community-improving goodness. Bringing books right to the streets and right to the people encourages reading for everyone, just like VPL’s Welcome Back Week.
Students may have a lot of class reading to keep up with, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like to fall into a juicy, fictional narrative every once in a while. So keep your eyes peeled for tiny libraries that pop up in your neighbourhood—they just might surprise you with their broad selection.
Welcome back week runs at Vancouver Libraries from October 21 to 27. For more information about Welcome Back Week, check out www.vpl.ca