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Sidney residents beam during opening of newest free little library

Located near Wakefield Manor, the library is helping making literacy more accessible
Shantael Sleight, outreach co-ordinator with the Saanich Peninsula Literacy Society, and Wakefield Manor resident Geri Holland, stand next to the new little free library that opened on Third Street in Sidney. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Geri Holland practically beamed as she clutched a copy of Melville’s Moby Dick against her grey winter coat. Minutes earlier, she was among the first to grab a book out of the new free little library that opened Nov. 2 on Sidney’s Third Street, mere steps from her Wakefield Manor apartment.

“I love it, because I go to them (little libraries) all the time, ” she said. Before the Nov. 2 opening, the closest little library was on the other side of Beacon Avenue. Now, she can indulge her reading habit by just walking down from her apartment. For Holland, this proximity makes all the difference while recovering from what she describes as a bad fall.

Robert Duquette, who also lives in the same apartment as Holland and helped to build the library as part of the team behind it, said the library will improve the quality of life among residents. “We have a lot of readers here and they are going to love this,” he said. “It gives them the opportunity to grab a book and give a book back.”

Just over half of the 24 people living in the nearby apartment use a walker or wheelchair for mobility, he said, pointing out the local branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library is not easily accessible for residents. “This is really, really going to be convenient.”

RELATED: Saanich author donates trailer load of children’s books to little free libraries across CRD

The newly opened little library joins three others (Central Saanich’s Pioneer Park, North Saanich’s Jubilee Park and Cordova Bay Elementary School) that opened earlier across the region thanks to the Saanich Peninsula Literacy Society, with two more scheduled to open in the future.

The library will also create a sense of community, said Duquette, pointing to the bench next to the little library. The library’s presence will encourage even more people to stop and talk at that location, he said. “Any community project like this draws people to it,” he said.

Shantael Sleight, outreach co-ordinator with the Saanich Peninsula Literacy Society, who launched the project with society board member Jennifer Van Es, said the new library will link into the map, which the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network maintains.

Sleight said the project not only fits the society’s mandate to make literacy accessible across all ages, it has also helped build partnerships with groups such as Beacon Community Services, and the SHOAL Centre for Seniors among others.

As such, it has helped build awareness about the importance of literacy, she said.

Slegg locations in Sidney and Central Saanich, Bay Street Castle Building Centre, Lowe’s (Langford), Home Hardware Sidney, Russell Nursery and Peninsula Landscape Supplies donated material, with Duquette and fellow SHOAL Centre volunteer Jim Wood building the library itself.

Individuals can donate books directly to individual free libraries or drop them at the SHOAL Centre.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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