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Little Library Reads

The last four books I have read have come from the free library around the corner from my place. Three quarters of that small sample size have been brilliant and somehow just what I needed at the time.

My favourite time to visit our neighbourhood library is around dusk. I round up the dog, the kids and often some wheels. We set off down the road and if I’m lucky one of the kids will hold my hand and try to match my steps, and we’ll have the kind of chat that usually only happens at bedtime when they're trying to delay the inevitable; lights out.

Personally, nothing beats a meander along an autumnal dusk here in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa. The neighbourhood we live in loses the sun earlier than most, but our local free library is on top of a hill, which means we get to see the sun setting over the Wharerata ranges; all those purpling layers of shade and haze and loveliness. The prospect of getting something free serves as a pretty good motivation for getting the kids to the top of a hill. The scavenging instinct is strong in our whānau.

Our local free library has a healthy mix of contemporary literature, kids’ books and books that look as if they would have had very fulfilling lives on coffee tables in the nineties before retiring to the little free library on the hill. As you would expect, there is also a fine selection of Mills n Boons, fiction by Maeve Binchy and Co. and magazines to flick through.

We return most of the books after we’ve had a jam, along with a couple from our bookcase because it’s always an unruly chaos, and because little libraries only really work if you're putting in as well as taking out. I must admit to keeping one excellent Anne Patchett number however, currently doing the rounds amongst my friends, because it's such a perfect antidote to these times. I must also admit to having sacrificed at least one of our finds to a collage session with the kids.

On our trips to the library, we stop to talk to neighbours also out enjoying the last of the day’s sun, inspect the native plantings put in by council to see how they’re faring and look about for whatever weird and wonderful fungi happens to be blooming at the time. We graze on the fruit forest that Carol Ford pulled all the kids from along the road into planting a few years back and call in at the Sharing Shelf some of our neighbours built back in the first lockdown. The kids fill their pockets with whatever’s going.

Our little local library is just another one of those small and simple things that connects us to our neighbourhood; both the people we share space with and the land that we live on. Just this week I was delighted to find another beaut of a little library on Maclean Street. There is also one on Murphy Road in Wainui and one on Barkers Hill. If you know of any others please let us know in the comments below!

Thanks Wendy Baxter, Chris Somerton and Hayley Trashe for setting up these small structures of goodness that are both conduits for community connection and the ability to access to the simple and sometimes extraordinary pleasure of a good book, for anyone to enjoy.


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