It’s surprising that a box of books could send a message about a community but that’s exactly what the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy, Nelson Public Library and Nelson Rotary are doing with Books Everywhere.
“Once someone called me up after finding my number off one of the boxes,” said Joan Exley, literacy outreach co-ordinator for Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy.
“They were visiting Nelson and thought Books Everywhere was the neatest thing. It made them think of Nelson as a place that really loves books and thought it was really friendly to see the boxes around town.”
Books Everywhere started a few years ago as a partnership between the literacy alliance, the library and Rotary as a way to get books out into the community, make literacy more visible, create a culture of learning and to give people a place to share books.
The library joined the project as a way to give people who live outside of the library’s region access to books.
“That’s still the case because some of the outlying regions still aren’t part of the library services,” said Exley. “They have the ability to borrow books in town for free.”
There are now 14 boxes around Nelson. People are able to pick up books at Oso Negro, Kootenay Bakery, Cowan’s, the Kootenay Family Place and more.
“The way it works is you can borrow a book from anywhere and you can read it at the location or you can take it, borrow it, pass it to a friend and return it to any box anywhere,” said Exley.
People are also able to donate books to the boxes.
“I think a lot more books go out than go in, but there are a lot of people donating good quality books so we don’t have a problem restocking the boxes,” said Exley.
Exley’s passion for literacy in the community has spread to her daughter Tessa and Tessa’s friend Danielle Solari.
Tessa and Solari are adopting two Books Everywhere boxes as part of an assignment through their Grade 11 English honours class.
“The idea is basically for everyone to take on some kind of project on their own time, outside of class, to be a leader in the community and an advocate for literacy in our community,” said Tessa.
After seeing what her mom created with Books Everywhere, Tessa thought it would be a great project for her to take on for school.
“I always thought it was pretty awesome,” said Tessa. “When we were given the opportunity to do a project with literacy it was the first idea that popped to my mind.”
Joan is hoping other community members come forward to adopt a box and help continue the project’s success.
Currently, the Alliance for Literacy has a staff member who helps maintain the boxes, but with resources spread thin, Joan is hoping the community will become involved.
“We are looking for people who might like to maintain a box and refresh it,” she said.
To volunteer for Books Everywhere or to learn more about the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy visit 250-352-3218.
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