The first community bookcase in the old city appeared in the back alley between Pine and Machleary Streets close to Bowen Park in 2011. It’s taken care of by about eight households. However lots of people from the surrounding neighbourhood contribute too. The yoga studio’s bookcase on Machleary Street opposite the baseball park was built very shortly afterwards. And the grand bookcase (which used to be a rifle cabinet) on Campbell Street right near Pine Street was the last addition. It is well used as it is in a very prominent spot. Over the years a bench, lovely little painted birdhouses and a smaller bookcase, which is used these days for food and toiletries for folks in need have been added. Brechin Hill Community Association also built their Book Nook in 2013.
Many of the bookcases are little works of art and joyful and they:
- develop community and pride in community especially if a group of people are involved;
- bring us closer together as many of us become isolated through technology;
- encourage us to walk around our neighbourhood which promotes health and even safety; and
- promote literacy and the love of reading and books.
Community bookcases were first developed in Germany in the 1990s. Nanaimo’s first bookcase appeared on Irwin Street in the south end of the city.