Little Free Libraries 'gaining momentum' in Nova Scotia, says co-founder

A Halifax couple, who helped introduce the city's smallest, free library over a year ago, is looking for volunteers to take over the mantle of building more libraries across the province — before they move away.

Halifax's first Little Free Library was built in 2014 on Agricola Street

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      A Halifax couple, who helped introduce the city's smallest free library over a year ago, is looking for volunteers to take over the mantle of building more across Nova Scotia — before they move away.

      Little Free Libraries are filled with books that anyone can borrow and return. Halifax's first, located on Agricola Street, was built by Alieda Blandford, her husband and a group they co-founded called FYI Halifax.

      Blandford says since the spring, people all over Nova Scotia are opening up to the concept.

      Agricola Street's Little Free Library managed to survive the large snowfalls of last winter. (Alieda Blandford)

      "We just got a huge flood of supportive emails, and people saying, 'Oh, that's awesome', but also people really interested in starting up their own Little Free Libraries in their neighbourhoods, outside local businesses, on school properties, community gardens — all kinds of places like that," Blandford said.

      Bookstores even wrote to offer book donations. But the responses have been overwhelming, she says. 

      "It turned into a bit of a bigger reaction than I expected. I was in graduate school, my husband was working two jobs. So we were kind of busy and then throughout this summer we said, 'Let's try and see what we can do with this.," said Blandford.

      She and her husband gave themselves a deadline to pass the torch. Before October's over, they want to find volunteer carpenters.

      "It seems to me that the movement is sort of on the cusp of gaining momentum and getting a lot of Little Free Libraries through the city, throughout Nova Scotia, just as we're getting ready to leave the city," said Blandford. 

      "It's not very expensive for the materials and you can borrow tools from the Halifax Tool Library. What you need is someone with a little bit of building know-how and just a few hands to drill the stuff together."

      A little, big movement

      Before FYI Halifax had its name, Blandford said the group started with other like-minded students at Dalhousie University while she was finishing her master's degree in Library and Information Studies last year.

      The group, she says, was filled with people who were interested in making information freely accessible.

      Since its inception, almost all FYI Halifax members have moved away. Now that she'll be gone soon, Blandford says she wants to pass on the reason why their Little Free Library was built in the first place.

      "I didn't think it would turn out to be a big movement," she said.

      "I'm really happy to give it somebody else, to give it to, you know — the whole idea is to mobilize people to do it themselves. And, you know, the more people we can get involved the better, I think." 

      If she ends up moving back to Halifax at some point, Blandford says she'd like to see more Little Free Libraries because she believes it's a way to improve neighbourhoods and connect people with each other.

      "Maybe the whole group could expand into other projects as well. That would be nice to see," she said.


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