Jan. 23 to 30 is Literacy Week across Canada, seven days set aside to celebrate a love of reading.
Claire Medlock is a Hope teenager who is looking to champion literacy 365 days a year through her ‘Little Library.’
Set up outside her home at 535 Stuart Street, it’s a book shelter that sits atop a post. People can take a book and leave a book and the 17-year-old Hope secondary school student said it’s been busy since she put it up in October.
“Every day when I get home from school I can see that there are different books, and my parents have seen people coming and going,” she said. “Lots of people have offered me free books to add to the library. People that I have talked to about it think that it’s really cool and brings something new and exciting to reading.”
Medlock got the idea when she went to Scout Camps on Vancouver Island.
“Each time we travelled, we would try and find one and I always thought that they were a good way for a community to embrace literacy and show youth that reading can be fun,” she said.
Medlock paid for the project through the Impact Library Program, a Wisconsin-based organization whose vision is to have “a Little Free Library in every community and a book for every reader.”
Because you have to be 18 to apply, her mom’s name was on the paperwork, but it was Medlock who wrote a heartfelt essay making a case for why Hope needed a Little Library.
“I think literacy is something that opens up the world for you to become whatever you want when you grow up,” she said.
After a few weeks of anxious waiting the application was approved last September.
“If you win they give you a free shelter, the mounting post, the charter membership and a box filled with books to stock the library,” she said. “Within a month they sent us everything we needed to assemble and install the adorable red library. All we had to do was cement the post into the ground and add our book stand to the Little Library online worldwide map. My dad helped with the cementing and then I filled the library. My mom built a cute little garden around it that is currently buried under several feet of snow.”
Medlock has wanted to do this for several years, and the timing was right as she pursued her Queen’s Venturer Scout Award.
She said she felt a sense of accomplishment when the project was finished, and she made sure to put a few of her favourite books in the library.
“My favourite kind of books are poetry,” Medlock said. “They are simple and don’t take too long to read, and I enjoy finding the symbolism in each poem. Between school, sports and a part time job I don’t have a lot of spare time but this kind of book allows me to still enjoy reading.”
There is another Little Library in Hope. Medlock’s kindergarten teacher, Teresa Williams, put one up outside her home last July, and Medlock said it was Williams who first taught her to read and “plays a pretty significant part in my love of books.”
Medlock plans to go to university this fall and study to become a teacher herself. Maybe one day she’ll be the one teaching youngsters to read, but in the meantime she’s not done with little libraries.
“I collected money over the summer through bottle collection, with the help of my family, and now I’ve saved about $800 to go towards building more of them,” she said. “I want to build my own or find someone willing to help us build more to donate so that we can have them all over town. I hope to get our Scout group involved and it would be the perfect partnership as they are always looking for ways to help in the community.
“I think that these libraries are really unique and not only make the youth of our town want to read but they also bring joy to the people that visit them.”
Get more info online at littlefreelibrary.org/about.