Olly Downie has set up a street library in Sunbury. (Damjan Janevski) 248391_01

Sunbury resident Olly Downie has always loved literature.

“I had a habit when I used to travel overseas, once I’d finished reading a book I’d write the date I’d travelled to and from that location inside the cover, and leave it in the hostel library for someone else to find,” he said.

“I just thought it was a nice, curious thing to do. I like the idea of sharing books and encouraging people to read.”

Mr Downie has now taken that interest and shared it with his community, by installing two street libraries in town.

Handmade and custom-bought street libraries have popped up around Victoria, providing a neighbourly system of exchange, where anyone is welcome to take a book and replace it with another.

There are more than 600 street libraries across the state, including Mr Downie’s donated street library to the Sunbury Aboriginal Corporation and one on his Collins Street property.

Mr Downie said the library had been a source of real joy for him throughout the pandemic.

“The other day there was a hand painted note left in my letterbox,” he said

“And on it was written, ‘Dear wonderful humans, thank you for the wonderful reading material and a bench. I’m three years olds and sometimes I need a rest because Mum walks a lot.’

“Another woman knocked on my door and thanked me personally.

“It’s really just a nice community thing, and that’s what I love about it.”

Oliver Lees

Little library of joy

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