Australians are Embracing Little Street Libraries

Spreading a love of books in the digital age.


Child taking a book from a little street library.

(EvgeniiAnd /

In today’s digital age when you can get information in a blink of an eye, there is a concern about children developing an appreciation for reading printed books. That’s why communities in Australia have come up with a way to impart a love of books in the younger generations.

Communities have tackled this issue by bringing libraries to where the kids are; in the streets, reported ABC News. The little libraries consist of weatherproof boxes that are set up outside of houses or public spaces and are filled with books. People can take books they haven’t read and donate ones they have to the libraries.

Building Community
Street Library Australia, a nonprofit, was started by Nick Lowe after he saw a Little Free Library in a trip to the  US. After an initial workshop in 2015 to build 30 libraries, the idea mushroomed and now there are 4,500 registered street libraries in Australia, Lowe told ABC News. “It just grew and grew,” he said.

The libraries come in all shapes and sizes from repurposed doll houses to old kitchen cupboards, according to Canberra Times. These libraries are completely voluntary and anyone can start one.

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Pamela Zielke who runs a library called Pam’s Pantry gives out toys and craft supplies along with books. An early childhood educator, she started her library with the goal of rescuing books from the dump.

But the libraries are doing much more than just providing books – and other donated items – to people. The street libraries are also building community.

“It's a little stopping place outside your house,” Lowe told ABC News. “It's a great way to meet people in your neighborhood who are also booklovers, recycle books, and find new books.”

Growth Sparked by Covid
A lot of the growth of the street libraries can be attributed to the Covid pandemic reported ABC News. Some saw it as a project they could do to keep busy or as a way to help their neighbors.

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In Hervey Bay, Denise Campbell set up her library during the lockdown. Her neighbors were used to borrowing books from her extensive library and she saw this as a way to keep it going.

She said that it became the focal part of the community. “It just helped our street to still communicate with each other even though we weren't able to go to each other's houses,” she said. Her library also provided puzzles and games for the kids.

“Those adult readers that couldn't get to the library in the beginning, it just gave them an easier way to get through the lockdowns. It was nice to be able to give back, and I felt that was quite a boost to my morale at the time as well.”

These Little Street Libraries provided a valuable service during the pandemic and the popularity has not waned. People use them to find books on specific hobbies like cooking, children are developing a love of reading books, and it is more convenient than going to a book store or a brick-and-mortar library. But even more importantly, with a shared interest,  the libraries are bringing communities closer together.

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