The highlight of Saskatoon’s tiniest library? A Gordon Lightfoot Greatest Hits cassette
Nestled in the front yard of a home in Saskatoon’s Varsity View neighbourhood is a wooden box with a door on it. Take a look inside and you’ll discover a cache of random books.
Welcome to Saskatoon’s smallest, most adorable library.
Amidst various spy novels and books about basketball and folk art, there is even a Gordon Lightfoot Greatest Hits cassette. Score! And, unlike the regular library branches, this one doesn’t require a library card – it works entirely on the honour system.
Little Free Libraries like this one have been popping up in neighborhoods across the country since 2009 when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a miniature school house, filled it with books and put it on a post in his yard. The idea took off when his neighbours starting building their own libraries, prompting Bol to start the Little Free Library organization.
The initial goal of Little Free Libraries was to build 2,510 libraries – that goal was reached in 2012. And, as of January 2014, there were an estimated 15,000 registered little libraries across the world. And, in an interview with Ominocity, Bol says that number is around 20,000.
“I think we need more community in this day and age. And I think that Little Free Library addresses this in a single, graceful gesture,” says Bol. “Book lovers were telling me that it broke their hearts to have to sell their old books for $.25 and that they would rather just see them go to their neighbours. And eventually what happened is that people would share their books but they were also sharing a piece of themselves.”
Bol says that he first got the idea to start the project after he was laid off from his job several years ago. Since then he says that the organization has been featured in the media thousands of times over, and has gotten praise from across the world.
“I knew there was magic when I saw how people were responding to this. People were opening their doors to their neighbours and I wondered where that could go.”
According to the site’s Google map directory, there are several other Little Free Library locations in Saskatchewan, including those in Assiniboia and Humboldt, with plans for another in Saskatoon. In November of 2013 a Kickstarter campaign was launched – the owner of the new library says that he hopes to have his library up and running in a month.
And Bol anticipates there could be even more coming.
“It’s a call for action for neighbours to do something,” he says. “It’s a way for the community to be empowered.”