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Exeter’s Little Library book sharing initiative grows across the city

Published: 27 October 2020

Hill Barton Little Library

A free community ‘Little Library’ book sharing project which started in Pinhoe is expanding across Exeter.

Cllr Trish Oliver, a Member Champion for Equality & Diversity, first discovered Hill Barton's Little Free Library by chance, before she was elected as a councillor.

Resident Corinna Spurway had decided to launch the ‘book hut’ for her neighbours on a new development in Pinhoe, and it quickly became popular with both children and adults.

During Lockdown Cllr Oliver saw how the Little Library became a focus of support for the Hill Barton Community, with basic food items replacing the books when the need for these was acute.

Cllr Oliver was so impressed with the compassion and innovation shown she decided to nominate Corinna as a Lockdown Legend, a project launched by RAAM in June to celebrate community spirit during the most difficult times.

Cllr Oliver said: “I first saw this little free library when our Pinhoe team were out listening to residents on Hill Barton’s new development.

“I could hardly believe I could take away a book for free. It was my choice if I kept it, passed it on or returned it. Generosity begets generosity and this Little Library has had lots of lovely books donated.”

Corinna said: “The Little Library is a free, book sharing box where neighbours can take or share a book. Books are always free. The concept works on community spirit and is ideally self-sustaining with as many new books coming in as going out. Books do not need to be returned to the library.

“Readers can keep books if they love them, pass on to a friend or share them in another Little Free Library. An online presence for each Little Free Library helps keep neighbours up to date on exciting new books and themes as well as putting neighbours in touch with each other and helping to create a sense of community.”

The idea was embraced by Cllr Amal Ghusain, Exeter’s Lead Councillor for Communities & Culture, who said she wants to see the project spread out all over Exeter and cover every ward.

And that’s already starting to happen.

The second community to set up a little Library was The Harringtons development, who were awarded a ward grant for the project. 

Next were the Friends of Summerway, in Thackeray Road. Wendy Bodell, of Friends of Summerway, worked hard to set up a Little Library in time for half term and Halloween - with the help of the Friends and a City Council ward grant.

The latest area to take up the idea is Stoke Hill – its Little Library is opening this week.

Cllr Ghusain added: “We hope this story will run and run, and keep highlighting why Exeter had been chosen as a UNESCO City of Literature.”

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