Airdrie City council has directed municipality staff to start laying the groundwork for the installation of a little free library in Nose Creek Regional Park, following a decision at their April 19 council meeting..
Administration has also been directed to put together a contract with the Airdrie Guides, who will oversee and maintain the little free library.
“If we can help out the Girl Guides with their project and see what we can do to help them get going, it’s something we should get done sooner rather than later,” said Coun. Kelly Hegg.
Often found in residential neighbourhoods, little free libraries are small boxes filled with books and bookshelves, usually attached to a post or stake in the ground. The idea is for residents to take a book from the box and replace it with another book.
According to the April 19 council meeting agenda report, the City received a letter from a Girl Guide leader on Feb. 21 that requested an exemption to a rule that prevented little free libraries from being installed on civic lands for liability reasons.
The letter, written by guide leader Linda Neilson, outlined six reasons why a little free library would be beneficial to the area. Her reasons were that little free libraries provide free access to books to everyone in the community and that they encourage literacy.
“It would allow 30 of your youngest constituents the ability to give back to the community,” Nielson’s letter stated. “A very important part of Girl Guides is community service and giving back to the community. Our girls would really like to do this for the park, as we have our meetings there often.”
During the presentation on the little free library item, Archie Lang, manager of parks and public works, outlined a number of reasons why the timing of the Girl Guides' initial request may have been off.
“There were a few concerns when I talked to risk management,” he said. “There were concerns about inappropriate literature, [and] if the books aren’t sanitized properly, there could be the transmission of viruses, moulds or diseases.”
According to Lang, a little free library was attempted on City land more than a decade ago, but it was quickly vandalized.
“Chapters of books were ripped out and put back, along with other nefarious acts that I won’t go into explaining,” Lang said. “It needs to be very closely monitored.”
Lang’s assessment said while it is currently possible to support the initiative, he felt it wasn’t the right choice at this time.
“Once circumstances change and restrictions are lifted, this should be looked at again, there is no doubt about that,” he said.
But council members disagreed with that position. Coun. Candice Kolson said she was disappointed to see there were still reasons presented to not bring forward a little free library to Nose Creek Regional Park.
“I tried to help a resident a few years ago, it was a resounding no at that time as well,” she said. “I don’t see why we can’t come up with some way to make this happen. Especially when we have a group like the Airdrie Guides, who is willing to take ownership of it.”
Deputy Mayor Ron Chapman agreed with Kolson, adding he doesn’t understand why this project would have to wait until public health restrictions are lifted.
“Why wouldn’t we be proactive and plan ahead for when restrictions are lifted?” he said. “The Girl Guides can get together with the City, plan where this will go and when restrictions are lifted, it will be ready.”
Coun. Tina Petrow made the motion to direct administration to put the contract together with the Airdrie Guides, and start the process of selecting a location for installation. The motion was passed unanimously.