Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Tour of Little Free Libraries in Kitchener-Waterloo

Kerri Hutchinson
CONTRIBUTOR, The Community Edition

Little libraries are thriving in Kitchener-Waterloo. The first little library was established in the region approximately three years ago and there are more than 60 little libraries throughout Kitchener-Waterloo.
Anyone can build a little library, but a local group, Little Libraries of Kitchener-Waterloo, began hosting community builds in 2013 with the purpose of making building and maintaining little libraries as easy as possible for community members. In 2015 the first two LLKW community builds sold out weeks in advance and more builds are expected.
LLKW organizer Tom Nagy described the community response as “Fantastic. Everybody has been really positive.”
Other communities have experienced backlash from city councils about the legality of little libraries, but Nagy described our local governments as being incredibly supportive, “people just get it here.”
Our communities’ interest and passion for literacy and engagement is obvious when you realize how many little libraries are throughout the region. Travelling east to west through KW, I visited seven little libraries, along a 5 km route.
Starting in Breithaupt Park, on a beautiful forested trail to the right of the splash pad and playground, I visited the first of seven little libraries. Well suited for the family neighbourhood, there was a good mix junior fiction in this library including a copy of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.”
My next two stops were across the street from one another on Waterloo St. Situated between the community garden at Uniroyal Goodrich Park and Mount Hope Cemetery, these two little libraries will have something for everyone in the neighbourhood. The little library on the east side of the street caters to the younger crowd with many junior fiction books and picture books. Classics and modern favourites like “Nancy Drew,” “The Babysitter’s Club,” and “Pete the Cat” were found in this little library.
On the west side of the street I found many adult fiction titles, including “Hell Going,” a collection of short stories by Canadian author Lynn Coady. “Hell Going” won the 2013 Giller Prize, Canada’s largest book prize.
Continuing up Waterloo St. to Moore Ave. South I came across another little library where I found the non-fiction best-seller, “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer.
Heading up to Allen St. East, I came across a lovely little library at Mary Allen Park recently installed by the Mary Allen Neighbourhood Association. Young adult titles, cookbooks, and literary fiction filled this little library. I found another Canadian literary novel, “Fugitive Pieces” by Anne Michaels here. Once the Spur Line trail is completed, this little library will be a hot spot for active commuters looking for something new to read.
Walking Allen St. into the uptown west neighbourhood I found a bright purple little library on Severn St. A diverse collection, this little library had “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Euginedes, “City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare, fiction best-seller Lisa Scottoline and a mix of biographies. Close to Belmont Village, readers are able to stop by the library on their way to breakfast at Checkerboard Restaurant or dinner at Janet Lynn’s Bistro.
Heading down Union Ave. and turning north on Avondale Ave., the final stop on my little library tour was a beautifully designed library space. This little library comes equipped with a beautiful stone bench and garden space that encourages readers to sit down and stay for a while. “Dreams of Joy” by Lisa See, “Cooking for Dummies” and fantasy titles by Philip Pullman and Terry Brooks rounded out this collection.
We are a community of book lovers. We have fantastic public library systems, independent bookstores and now dozens of little libraries. But little libraries are about more than just books. These little libraries encourage us to walk around our city and engage with our neighbours. They are conversation starters and they bring people together.
I encourage you to explore your neighbourhood and discover a little library near you.
- See more at: http://communityedition.ca/blog/2015/06/07/a-tiny-tour-of-little-libraries/#sthash.5au2OAIR.dpuf

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Little Free Libraries Make Big Changes in Communities

Margret Aldrich and her husband weren’t in the habit of spending much time with their neighbors. They would get home from work, pull into their Minneapolis garage, and head in the back door of their house without much interaction. That all changed with they built a Little Free Library. Within minutes of putting it up, people were coming over to visit.
“When we placed the Little Free Library in front of our house, it was instant,” Aldrich says. “The minute we had it in the ground, we had neighbors crossing the street and coming from down the block to stop by and tell is how great it was. People who I had never spoken to came over to chat with us.”
Aldrich is not alone. Around the world, Little Free Libraries are bringing people together. They act as tiny, public spaces that welcome everyone. There are now 28,000 Little Free Libraries in over 80 countries, with no sign of the movement slowing.
A lifelong book lover and the author of The Little Free Library Book, Aldrich seeks out Little Free Libraries both at home in Minnesota, and when she travels. On a recent trip to New Orleans, she attended a potluck for Little Free Library stewards where everyone shared a story of their library and what is has meant to their neighborhood. Everyone had a moving story to tell.
When she visits other Little Free Libraries, Aldrich likes to leave copies of her book. A celebration of the Little Free Library movement and the people in it, The Little Free Library Book is also a how-to guide for starting a Little Free Library, organizing a community build day, being a good Little Free Library steward, hosting events around Little Free Libraries, connecting with the global network of stewards, and more.
The overarching theme of the book is that Little Free Libraries draw out our innate humanness and connectedness, as well as a sense of joy. There are inspiring stories of stewards and Little Free Library communities from around the world.
One man in South Korea was doing a Google search for libraries when he came across Little Free Libraries. He was moved to create the first Little Free Library in the country. Families create Little Free Libraries as tributes to loved ones. The Los Angeles Police Department is putting Little Free Libraries in stations to, as Aldrich writes, “soften the precincts’ hard, gritty reputations; promote youth literacy; and develop better relationships with the public.” One boy in Qatar launched the first Little Free Library in the Middle East.
The book highlights some of the most creative Little Free Libraries, including one that is an almost life-sized replica of Doctor Who’s TARDIS phone booth; one that is built like a classic movie theater; one carved out of a tree trunk; another in the shape of a lighthouse, and many more. As Aldrich points out, you can get lost in a Little Free Library wormhole on Pinterest, with libraries taking just about every theme imaginable.
Some library stewards—including Aldrich—leave guest books so people can connect with other library users, and some libraries have become neighborhood social spots, with storytime for kids, potlucks, and other neighborhood gatherings. Jay Walljasper, author of All That We Share: a Field Guide to the Commons, and editor of On the Commons, remarked to Aldrich that even if no one is there at a Little Free Library, you still feel a greater sense of connection with the neighborhood. In her research for the book, Aldrich heard from real estate agents that if there's a Little Free Library on a block, a house will sell faster because it just feels like a friendlier neighborhood.
The power of Little Free Libraries goes beyond neighborhood building. Aldrich found that in middle class and upper income communities, Little Free Libraries are “about the community building piece.” In lower income communities, however, the libraries are more about the literacy piece.
“Often, there are book deserts where books aren't available,” she says. “Or maybe you’re a kid and your parent can’t get you to the library as often as you’d want to go. Little Free Libraries are just putting books in your everyday path.”
Little Free Libraries recently raised over $50,000 with a crowdfunding campaign to get more Little Free Libraries into underserved communities. The organization’s goal is to double the number of Little Free Libraries to 50,000 by 2017.
Little Free Libraries also partners with Books for Africa. An organization with a goal of ending the book famine in Africa, it gets a large amount of books donated to its program. It doesn’t, however, have a good place to put them in communities. Little Free Libraries are a great solution.
“It’s a natural partnership to team up with Little Free Libraries and build as many libraries as they need to house these books,” says Aldrich. “That partnership makes so much sense.”
To find a Little Free Library near you, or to find out more about becoming a Little Free Library steward, visit littlefreelibrary.org, where you can find a Little Free Library using their search engine or map.
Rooted in such a simple idea—basically a box of books that people can access and contribute to—Little Free Libraries have become transformational tools that reflect their individual communities.
“There are now 28,000 Little Free Libraries around the world,” says Aldrich, “and they each have a story to tell.”

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

This “Cat Library” Lets Workers Borrow A Kitten For Their Work Day

Great idea for both staff and cats!  JN

Tiffany Tillison

2. The local government employees of Doña Ana County in Las Cruces, New Mexico, can head to their “library” of feline friends during the day and select a kitty to keep them company at their desk.

One of the employees, Tiffany Tillison, posted a photo of the “cat library” to Reddit and it quickly blew up on the internet.

3. Tillison explained that the county’s head of public relations had the idea of bringing cats from a local animal shelter and letting county employees play with them.
The shelter, Animal Care Center of Mesilla Valley, brings over cats that usually “need a little special attention.”
“We have had cats that are blind, that have been abused, that were abandoned,” Tillison said.

4. Though it is formally known as the “Kitty Kondo,” Tillison told BuzzFeed News the employees have nicknamed it “the library.”
Tiffany Tillison

5. On average, there are about five cats available at a time, Tillison said. Employees can go play with them in the library, or take them to their office for as long as they want.

6. But what about allergic employees?
Tillison said that as far as she knows, no one has ever complained. She attributed this to employees being respectful of coworkers whom they know are allergic.
“There is a chair in the condo for people who want to take breaks in there and spend time with the cats,” she said. “My office mate is allergic, and I just make sure to wash my hands and lint roll before I go back to my desk, and he hasn’t had any problems yet.”

7. In addition to being fun for the employees, Tillison said the project helps the cats find forever homes.

8. In fact, Tillison’s family adopted their cat Lucy through the library. She said more than 100 other cats have also been adopted through the program.
Tiffany Tillison
The project helps to raise awareness about cats who need homes, she said.
“Most animal shelters are out of the way outside of towns (usually outside the city limits), so you have to really be thinking of adopting an animal to take the trouble to go over there,” she said. “But with this program, hundreds of people come through our lobby every day, so they can’t miss seeing them!”

Monday, 1 June 2015

14 Books To Read If You Love Downton Abbey

Suffering from Downton withdrawal? Here, these will help.               

1. Snobs by Julian Fellowes

The best comedies of manners are often deceptively simple, seamlessly blending social critique with character and story. In his superbly observed first novel, Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey and winner of an Academy Award for his original screenplay of Gosford Park, brings us an insider’s look at a contemporary England that is still not as classless as is popularly supposed.

2. The Love & Inheritance Trilogy by Fay Weldon

As the writer of the pilot episode of the original Upstairs, Downstairs, Fay Weldon brings a deserved reputation for magnificent storytelling. With wit and sympathy—and no small measure of mischief—the Love & Inheritance Trilogy plots the interplay of restraint and desire, manners and morals, reason and instinct, as it follows the Earl of Dilberne and the rest of the family who inhabits the household in Belgrave Square.

3. Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke

In Rutherford Park, Lady of the house Octavia Cavendish lives like a bird in a gilded cage. With her family’s fortune, her husband, William, has made significant additions to the estate, but he too feels bound—by the obligations of his title as well as his vows. Their son, Harry, is expected to follow in his footsteps, but the boy has dreams of his own, like pursuing the new adventure of aerial flight. Meanwhile, below stairs, a housemaid named Emily holds a secret that could undo the Cavendish name.
On Christmas Eve 1913, Octavia catches a glimpse of her husband in an intimate moment with his beautiful and scandalous distant cousin. She then spies the housemaid Emily out in the snow, walking toward the river, about to make her own secret known to the world. As the clouds of war gather on the horizon, an epic tale of longing and betrayal is about to unfold at Rutherford Park…

4. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks

P.G. Wodehouse documented the lives of the inimitable Jeeves and Wooster for nearly sixty years, from their first appearance in 1915 (“Extricating Young Gussie”) to his final completed novel (Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen) in 1974. These two were the finest creations of a novelist widely proclaimed to be the finest comic English writer by critics and fans alike. Forty years later, Bertie and Jeeves returned in a hilarious affair of mix-ups and mishaps. With the approval of the Wodehouse estate, acclaimed novelist Sebastian Faulks brought these two back to life for their legion of fans.

5. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

The most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh’s novels, Brideshead Revisited looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder’s infatuation with the Marchmains and the rapidly-disappearing world of privilege they inhabit. Enchanted first by Sebastian at Oxford, then by his doomed Catholic family, in particular his remote sister, Julia, Charles comes finally to recognize only his spiritual and social distance from them.

6. The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

In The American Heiress, Cora Cash (whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’) suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage.
In The Fortune Hunter, Sisi has everything - except happiness. Bored with the stultifying etiquette of the Hapsburg Court and her dutiful but unexciting husband, Franz Joseph, Sisi comes to England to hunt. She comes looking for excitement and she finds it in the dashing form of Captain Bay Middleton… Bay and the Empress are as reckless as each other, and their mutual attraction is a force that cannot be denied.

7. The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn

In The Last Summer, Clarissa Granville lives with her parents and three brothers in the idyllic isolation of Deyning Park, a grand English country house, where she whiles away her days enjoying house parties, country walks and tennis matches. Clarissa is drawn to Tom Cuthbert, the housekeeper’s handsome son. Though her parents disapprove of their upstairs-downstairs friendship, the two are determined to see each other, and they meet in secret to share what becomes a deep and tender romance. But soon the winds of war come to Deyning, as they come to all of Europe. As Tom prepares to join the front lines, neither he nor Clarissa can envision what lies ahead of them in the dark days and years to come. Nor can they imagine how their love will be tested, or how they will treasure the memory of this last, perfect summer.

8. The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton

A love story of love and marriage among the old and new moneyed classes, The Buccaneers is a delicately perceptive portrayal of a world on the brink of change. After Wharton’s death in 1937, The Christian Science Monitor said, “If it could have been completed, The Buccaneers would doubtless stand among the richest and most sophisticated of Wharton’s novels.”

9. Below Stairs and Servants’ Hall by Margaret Powell

Margaret Powell’s compelling and colorful memoirs take the reader inside the forgotten world of domestic service—a true slice of life from a time when armies of servants lived below stairs simply to support the lives of those above. Arriving at the great houses of 1920s London, fifteen-year-old Margaret’s life in service was about to begin… Margaret’s tales of her time in service are told with wit, warmth, and a sharp eye for the prejudices of her situation.

10. Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown

Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown

In Summerset Abbey, Rowena and Victoria—daughters to the second son of the Earl of Summerset—have always treated their governess’s daughter, Prudence, like a sister. But when their father dies and they move in with their uncle’s family in a much more traditional household, Prudence is relegated to the maids’ quarters, much to the girls’ shock and dismay. The impending war offers each girl hope for a more modern future, but the ever-present specter of class expectations makes it difficult for Prudence to maintain a foot in both worlds.