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Creating a sense of community through literature.

By Rosie Seek, Expressions Florist

I’ve always been a book worm. As a child, reading was greatly encouraged in our household. Time was set aside before bed for us to read before lights out, during the Easter Holidays along with the customary chocolate eggs my sister and I always received a book to devour as well. And Wednesday after school was always a library excursion followed by ice creams from the dairy next door.

Therefore, a neighbourhood book exchange was always a bit of a dream of mine. I loved the idea of having an ever-revolving range of books on my doorstep and of being able to supply fresh reading material to the community around me. So, December 2018 my husband Mitch and I set about the project of putting together our very own community book exchange named “maryBOOKbank” (a play on the suburb we live in, Mark Bank, and the term Book Bank).

The refuse station gods were looking down on us that weekend! For awaiting us there was an old medicine cabinet with a glass door and a mirror backing which we snapped up and some corrugated iron that was cut to fit the roof. Mitch executed the construction and I got out the paint brushes …we were away laughing!

Once maryBOOKbank was fitted into place at the entrance of the Mary Bank Reserve reading material started trickling in immediately. Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children’s books, Self Help, Biography, Colouring books, Cooking books, Hunting magazines. You name it… we’ve had it. I would never have imagined that maryBOOKbank would have evolved to be so successful, not only in the weekly turn around of books but also in creating a sense of community through literature.

There is nothing more pleasing than seeing dog walkers wandering down the road with a book in hand, or children fresh out of school checking to see what’s available.

An article by Jeremy Anderberg called ‘The Benefits of Installing a Little Free Library in Your Front Yard’ gives the following benefits of having a book bank in your local community:

  1. Promotes literacy
  2. Promotes general neighbourliness
  3. Expands your own literacy horizons
  4. Allows you to talk to strangers
  5. Cultivates your spirit of generosity

And I couldn’t agree more, not only have many treasures that have been on my ‘Wish to read list’ turned up in the exchange but also other interesting material that I would not normally have picked to read myself. During the summer months I’ve seen neighbours generously leave other things such as home grown produce at the exchange for the community to enjoy.

So, wander on down to the Mary Bank reserve and check out markBOOKbank. Or alternatively pop on to our Facebook page for community news and book exchange updates @marybookbank.

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