Once Upon a Time in the West

I love tiny objects, tiny discoveries, tiny treasure. And we all know the inner west is full of them. Walking around Seddon and surrounds I’m always intrigued by the secret tiny lane, opposite the station, that leads to a brass Buddha’s head, to the colourful and oh-so-nineties Simpsons graffiti located on a wall behind Gamon Street; the tiny top of Marge’s blue hair peeking above the fence line.

You don’t have to look too far to find the tiny libraries scattered around the suburbs, sitting on fences, waiting for little hands to reach in and discover magical stories, or for mum’s like me to find a light rom-com or a Mills and Boon raunch fest.

So what are all these Little Free Libraries doing around our neighbourhood?

A community project which started in the US has made its way to Seddon, Yarraville, Newport, Kingsville and beyond, treating local residents of all ages with access to free books in exchange for a book of their own. It’s as simple as take a book, give a book.

Not only does this concept encourage reading, it also shows trust and an element of sharing within a community.

While the Free Little Libraries are that: little, the books inside are not just for the littlies. I discovered crime novels, cook books, diet books, biographies of forgotten sports stars, theories of getting rich quick and, my favourite, a picture book on Roger Moore produced in the early-eighties. I grabbed this beauty off the tiny shelf and replaced it with Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities. I thought it was a decent swap – strong tans, power suits, gold pinky rings and all.

There are almost 25,000 Free Little Libraries in the world, each one encouraging literacy and promoting the love of reading in communities. I found three in my local neighbourhood but I’m sure there’s plenty more to be discovered.
I encourage you to switch off the TV today and journey around the west to score yourself a free book to read in the sun. Don’t forget to replace it with one of your own and share your favourite tales with a new friend. Perhaps write a message in the cover and make a new buddy?

Keep an eye out for your local Little Free Library, some of which look like dollhouses attached to a fence. These tiny colourful gems are dotted around your neighbourhood just for you to discover.

Here are a few of my faves:

5 Hobbs Street, Seddon.
Grab a book and sit on one of the many free swings lining this beautiful street.
183 Somerville Road, Yarraville
The fence alone is a treat to admire. A great selection of current crime novels.
Hedgecorner, Corner of Hansen and Nesnah Streets, Kingsville
This Free Little Library has its own Facebook page. Search Hedgecorner for updates on book avails.
Become a Little Free Library supporter or member at http://littlefreelibrary.org/

This article first appeared in the November 2015 issue of The Westsider.
Photos by Paul Large. 

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