Street Libraries

Ms Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, today I am speaking about three street libraries in the Launceston electorate. What are they? They are little places in the community where you can find books to borrow from the books donated by members of the community. The Hadspen Street Library, which is near the community noticeboard at the Hadspen shops, was set up by Nikayla Jones in August 2017. A devoted reader all her life, she remembers how her mum would read her a bedtime story each night as a young girl, with favourites including the Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton and Callie's Castle by Ruth Park.

Nikayla was inspired to set up a street library for her community after seeing a TV story about one that had been established in a rural Australian town. It is often said if you want to get a job done, give it to a busy person; that is definitely the case here. Nikayla started the Hadspen project not long after she and her husband welcomed twin girls. Nikayla says -

As an avid reader, I would read during their nap times. I found it difficult with twin babies to get into a library to borrow books and thought, 'Why don't I start a Street Library in Hadspen? That way I can walk and get books to read at the same time'. Still wanting a Street Library to become a success in Hadspen, I started to think on a bigger scale, what if we could have one at a central location where all the community can have access to it and share in the love of reading?

Nikayla sourced funding for materials from her local Lions Club and her husband, a draftsman, drew up the plans and submitted them to council. Her father, who owns an awning and powder coating business at Longford, helped her to build the street library unit, along with his employees. She did all the painting and sign-writing.

Meander Valley Council also gave assistance, as did her friends. Once it was built, Nikayla and her family donated books to it. She also sourced more books from the community by asking for donations on the Hadspen community Facebook page. Nikayla says the response from the community and surrounding suburbs has been absolutely fantastic, with constant demand from people of all ages.

Chris Burke started The Lyttle Free Library in front of his house in Lyttleton Street in East Launceston in September this year. A keen reader, Chris set up his library because he had a lot of books at home and he concedes it might be too many. He was starting to give them away and also lend them. The word 'free' is important to Chris as it is absolutely free to use his library. The local reaction has been extremely positive.

A lot of books have been donated and many have been borrowed. Chris says, 'You don't have to donate books to use the library.' He also felt his street library was a great way to meet neighbours. Chris has been so pleased by the reaction that he is looking at other ways he can support his community.

Above all, Chris feels his Lyttle Free Library is about sharing great literature. On the Street Library Australia website, he says -

My street library is to provide an opportunity for more books to be re-used by many. Books are meant to be handled and read, so they can fulfil their role of providing enjoyment, entertainment and education for all. Finding out what other people are interested in reading and discussing books also intrigues me. I hope the Little Free Library will encourage more local community interaction and interest.

The Launceston Preparatory School had the official opening of its street library in late August. The idea for a street library came from the staff, who said that it could be a team project for the grade 6 students. With limited teacher support, the students designed and built the library and are running it themselves. Books in it are for all ages, so a rule is that an adult must supervise children using it to ensure they only borrow age-appropriate books.

Teacher Edward Barnes says that they ran a competition among the students to select a design. The design was created by using a 3D modelling program. The children came up with the budget and sourced materials through a local hardware retailer. They also did a lot of the hard work when it came to the build.

Once the street library was built, there was a letterbox drop to tell the local neighbourhood and an article in the Examiner, plus they registered it online at www.streetlibrary.org.au. I assume that all members will now look up that site and find out where there might be street libraries in their areas. The grade sixes look after the library each day and an adult checks for unwanted material in it prior to the children arriving at school each day.

Mr Barnes says they have been extremely pleased with the community's positive reaction. The library is working very well. The project has been a great way to teach students in science, technology, engineering and maths - STEM - as well as teamwork. I applaud Nikayla Jones, Chris Burke and the Launceston Preparatory School for coming to the Chamber today; for using their love of great books to strengthen their communities.

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