Little Free Library in St. Davids aims to boost childhood reading

·4 min read

A new Little Free Library installed in Sparky’s Park in St. Davids aims to bring the community together and inspire youth to pick up a book, says project overseer Lili Kvederys.

The design of the book dispensary was inspired by the village's iconic Woodbourne Inn so it also provides people with a bit of St. Davids history,

The project was initiated by the Friends of St. Davids, a community-led organization started in 2018 whose goal is to unite the expanding population of St. Davids.

Friends co-founder Greg Walker said part of the genesis of the group back then was because people realized “this village is growing so fast and none of these people know each other.”

Greg’s wife, Dorothy, released a book in 2018 about St. Davids entitled “A Village in the Shadows.” During the book launch the couple realized the potential for a community organization in the village.

“Dorothy said to me, ‘Greg, we’ve got to do something about this. Why don’t we start something, why don’t we get some sort of social movement going?' ” So they did.

The organization had a good start but was hampered by COVID-19. That’s where the idea for the Little Free Library came in, he said.

“This year, we had two people step up and say, ‘I would like to do something to bring this community together.’ ”

One of those people was Kvederys.

She wanted the project to be inclusive of the range of St. Davids community members.

“We’re trying to hit all of the age groups and genres. We’d like to have some Indigenous and Black history. We’re trying to get lots of things so the children who are reading it understand more,” she said.

One of her goals with the project was to induce more young people to start reading. The Little Free Library is complete with books for young kids and teenagers and is strategically located next to a playground so kids have easy access to literature.

And it’s already working, Kvederys said.

“The very first day that I came here there were two little boys sitting here reading a book and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness,’ ” she said.

“It’s so good to see them sitting here reading instead of reading their phones and their father's not sitting and looking through his email.”

With its Woodbourne Inn theme, the library helps reinforce St. Davids history.

It was designed by Leslie Mann, a scale model architect in the village.

Mann said key features from the actual Woodbourne Inn incorporated into the design were the arched door with a white handle, two significant window designs on either side of the building, corbels that hold up the ledge over the main door, as well as the white siding and green paint adorning the windows, doors and roof.

“It’s so nice to have and it educates our community about some of the historic aspects — there’s so many beautiful historic buildings in St. Davids,” Kederys added.

Walker said the initiative was originally intended to be the first of several Little Libraries in St. Davids, all designed after a historic property in the village.

But the current Little Free Library, which has been installed on municipal property, is considered a pilot project by the town.

Walker said the Friends of St. Davids will wait until the pilot project period is up before pursuing the creation of any more Little Free Libraries.

Meanwhile, Kvederys wants NOTLers from other parts of town to come and take a book and add some of their own to the collection.

She and Jan King-Watson are stewards of the project. King-Watson recently moved to St. Davids and jumped at the opportunity to get involved with the community project.

“I’m so grateful. The Friends of St. Davids just embraced me and made me feel so welcome,” she said.

King-Watson and Kvederys are tasked with overseeing the Little Free Library and making sure it is filled with appropriate books daily.

At its heart, Walker hopes the Little Free Library can be a spot for people to commune and engage with literature. “What’s most important is that we find that people do come and they use it. Kids come and find books and they sit here and they read. And we say, ‘You know what? We really are adding something to this community,' ” Walker said.

Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report

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