Guilford Young College – Street Libraries Australia
Over the past two years, students of Guilford Young College in Hobart (TAS) undertaking the Exploring Issues in Society (EIS) Year 11 course have gifted 14 Street Libraries to various community members and businesses, including primary schools, cafes, residents, a pub and a surf school.
The EIS course is designed for students to develop an understanding of a broad range of matters impacting society and how individuals, communities and the government respond to these issues. Students look at ways in which they can make a positive difference in these spaces and complete volunteering for the community as well as in-school projects such as Street Libraries.
Street Libraries were chosen as they promote the values of trust, goodwill, sustainability and equal access. Students thought this initiative particularly important in 2020 when communities looked for ways to support and connect with neighbours. The libraries completed in 2019 were very popular during lockdown. People became more aware of their neighbours’ needs and many libraries began swapping not only books but puzzles and games too – one even kept a roll of emergency toilet paper!
In 2019 the EIS class worked with a Digital Design and Construction class to make libraries but with Covid19 disrupting this year, the decision was made to purchase kits from Street Libraries Australia. Students worked in groups to create designs and paint the libraries according to themes given by the eventual recipients. These themes ranged from industrial, beach, Australiana, endangered local animals through to Collingwood/Guinness, haunted house and Dr Seuss! The 2020 libraries have just been delivered in time for the festive season.
EIS Teacher, Lauren (image is Lauren with Paul the Digital Design and Construction teacher): “The Street Libraries project has involved so many people and is the gift that keeps on giving! From those who put together the kits, GYC students beautifying them, community members opening their homes or businesses and those within their spheres sharing, reading and connecting over the books. So much positivity from a little box!”
Comments from people who received one in 2019:
Joe: “The Street Library has been an amazing asset to our business Parklane Espresso, who wouldn’t want to sit and relax with a coffee and a book our customers look forward to a different book most days and are restocking it with great joy! It has also created a buzz in the community with passers by commenting and saying what a great idea❤️”
Jono: “We received a Street Library from GYC for our house at Clifton Beach. Since having the fabulous Library out front I for one have read many more books but the local community have embraced it also. We constantly have people feeding and taking books with a very high turnover rate. Many discussions have been had on the beach regarding the books shared and read. A great initiative from GYC and we love being part of it.”
A snapshot of students’ reflections on the Street Library project:
Dane: “It was interesting and exciting to hear that all our libraries would be distributed around the community. This project gives all people of the community the chance to read and learn completely free of cost and that, in my opinion, is what made this worthwhile. We are able to give joy to the community through our Street Libraries.”
Lily: “I believe that street libraries can be an extremely effective way to build a sense of community and improve local literacy skills while essentially creating an environmentally sustainable movement in that books are getting reused and upcycled.”
Jamie: “Every time I go past the café, it’s going to Salamanca, I’ll be able to say that I helped make that. But it’s more about the people who benefit from having the street library. The customers can sit down with their coffees while reading a book, and who knows, maybe the café will get more service because more people might go by that area. It’s enjoyable to know that the effort we’re putting in now can impact so many people in the future.”
Jake: “Having this be the result of our efforts made the entirety of what we had done worthwhile as we are able to provide a sense of joy in the community.”