Neighbourhood libraries and access to books

I believe - and I hope this doesn't sound too far fetched - that public libraries are a cornerstone of civilization, because they provide people without access to books the opportunity to read freely, to read whatever they want.
Richard B. Wright, Provincial Libraries Week,
Saint John NB, 2003.

We had our QLNB AGM a little while back, which meant we had to prepare full-year reports. One of the things I noticed, when I wrote up the adult learning support portion of an activity report, was that we did far more "library" than "direct literacy" work in 2010.

Mostly, we lent out books.

Through the bookwagon program, or my other contacts with adult learners, we lent out workbooks and leveled readers and novellas on about 150 occasions. On another 100 occasions, we lent out mass market fiction and non-fiction to house-bound adults. We lent a half dozen reading and math workbooks to two volunteer tutors. We helped create and stock three neighbourhood libraries, in a project that began in 2009. We've supported a local school library. And, over the past several months, we've been engaged in the creation of several more small libraries to be operated in seniors' housing.

So it was with a sense of normalcy that I spent Saturday afternoon swapping out books and a bookshelf in the Crescent Valley Community Tenant's Association building.

Forever ago, an MLA rustled up a bookshelf which was, um... adequate. But it had these sliding glass doors that never slid very well, and always looked dirty. The shelves didn't fit quite right, and one kept falling off its supports. And the books were dusty left-overs from, well, someone's dusty left-overs.

Anyway, in a spirit of generosity - or a moment of impatient annoyance - I spoke up at a meeting last Tuesday and volunteered to replace it with a more sensible, functional bookshelf stocked with popular reading materials.*

As it turned out, the CVCTA was able to provided a shelf: they only needed some helpful soul to put it together and fill it with good books.

So I did.

Yay, me!

Now I just have to clear enough space in our book storage room to cram in the old shelf; and perhaps find a clever place to hide those unslidable glass doors.

* "Good" based on bookwagon usage and feedback from my in-class learners. The list includes books like the Harry Potter, Twilight, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Bone series. Plus books by authors Tony Hillerman, Terry Brooks, Michael Connelly, Michael Crichton, Ann Rule and Robin Cook. Unfortunately, I don't have enough Quick Read - Rapid Read - Good Read books, or even lower level resources, to leave behind.

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