Nip down the street for a library book!

TWO “street libraries” have started up in Waramanga and librarians Rod Pitcher and Steve McDonald say they’re enthusiastic about reading and sharing books.

Street librarian Rod Pitcher… “If someone’s here I’ll come out and have a chat and be sociable, find out what they like to read or what they’re looking for.” Photo by Kathryn Vukovljak

“Steve and I knew of each other through bookcrossing, where you leave books in public places for people to read,” says Rod, who has named his library The Book Cache.

“So far we have only actually communicated via email but I heard he was doing a street library and it was something I’d thought about, too.”

Rod says he saw a bookcase on his morning walk, brought it home and filled it with books.

“I started advertising and putting up notices at the shops. Books started coming in, people started borrowing, and it’s gone on from there,” he says.

A street library is a tiny library for people to borrow and leave books as they wish, and Street Library Australia keeps a list of all registered book lenders to make the libraries easy to find.

Rod, 72, says it’s got to the point now where his Yambina Crescent library runs itself.

“I’m happy for people to come and help themselves,” he says.

“I wasn’t sure if it would work, being set back from the street, but people follow the signs and come to see what’s going on.

“Some borrowers I meet, some I don’t. I’ve had one woman who left me a note that said: ‘I found a book I liked so I sat down on your very comfy chair and read it here’. I’m happy for that.”

Rod has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and says the library provides an interest for him and a way to be sociable with like-minded people when he wants to be.

“I don’t need to run the place, I let people do what they want. I don’t bother who they are, what they are, they can come and go, if they don’t want to chat that’s okay. It doesn’t matter whether they borrow or not, or which books they take and that’s how I prefer it to be.

“A lot of the time I’m inside reading or writing, so if someone’s here I’ll come out and have a chat and be sociable, find out what they like to read or what they’re looking for.

“I don’t have time to read all the books though, so I can’t really offer advice on what to borrow.”

Steve McDonald and his street library… “It’s been great for meeting the neighbours and people in the area.” Photo by Kathryn Vukovljak

Steve, whose library is around the corner on Nemarang Crescent, says he enjoys watching people come and go and have a browse.

“It’s been great for meeting the neighbours and people in the area,” he says.

“I’m a fan of Australian history, non-fiction and some historical fiction, but I try to keep a variety of books in the library. I’ve been surprised how many kids’ books turn up too, it’s great.”

Rod says one of the things he appreciates about running a street library is the new books that come his way.

“At the moment I’m reading a book by Daniel Dennett that turned up here, and when I looked inside I saw it had come from Steve’s library originally and been dropped off here.

“Reading is something I’ve done all my life and gained so much from it and if an occasional person gets a book to read from me and takes it away, then I’ve done my job.”

Rod’s street library, The Book Cache, is at U25, Kurralta Court, 7 Yambina Crescent, Waramanga. Steve’s library is at 18 Nemarang Crescent, Waramanga. More information at streetlibrary.org.au

The list of ACT registered street libraries is at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1qbuV7rrjvXvY40QOqjZMYfVFZwjVf8-I

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