Want to borrow or donate a book and get to know your neighbours? Get involved with a Street Library. Street Libraries are sprouting up around Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter region promoting a love of reading and providing a chance for communities to connect.

“Take a book, Give a book, Share a book” is the motto of the Street Library movement. It’s basically a micro library that you install in your front yard that’s accessible to the street. People can walk by and take or donate a book to the Street Library as they wish, without checking them in or out.

It’s a creative way to swap books and get to know your neighbours. According to the Street Library Australia website, there’s 344 street libraries in Australia, in front of people’s homes, childcare centres, schools and even beaches. Randwick City Council installed a Street Library at Coogee Beach for the summertime period. Maybe a similar initiative could be replicated at Newcastle and Lake Macquarie beaches by our local councils.

A new addition to the Street Library network is on Gregson Avenue in Mayfield Westand is called “Books On The Avenue”. Located less than 60 metres to Mayfield West Public School, this location enjoys lots of passing foot traffic every school day.

I stopped by the library to have a look and meet owners Margaret and Geoff. An avid reader, Margaret was inspired to start the library after seeing a feature about Street Libraries on ABC TV. Geoff built the library using upcycled materials from a variety of sources including a TV cabinet and a kids chalk easel.

With a five year old, Margaret and Geoff have filled their library with both adult and kids books and advise that anyone can contribute or take books. Occasionally there may be DVDs and CDs donated. I was impressed with their selection and “borrowed” two books and plan to donate a few more in return. To feature books that have arrived on the shelves of their Street Library, Margaret and Geoff have launched a Books On The Avenue Facebook page.

At the current time, there are seven other Street Libraries in the region with the number expected to grow.

These include:

  • Tighes Hill book nook, Henry Street, Tighes Hill
  • Union Street Book and DVD Exchange, Tighes Hill
  • The Book Stump in Charlestown
  • Maryland Neighbourhood Centre, Maryland
  • Lorn Library at Queen Street in Lorn
  • Bourke Street Library in Maitland
  • Eucalyptus Crescent in Metford

Tighes Hill book nook

Want to start your own Street Library? It’s easy to get started. Check out the Street Library website for information on how to build a waterproof container for your own Street Library. Or you can adapt items such as beer or wine fridges, birdhouses, dollhouses, furniture cabinets and even telephone booths into Street Library boxes. Once you’ve got your container, fill it with books and officially register it on the Street Library website.

Happy reading!