Tiny Libraries

You may have read one of my very first blog posts about a surprising find of mine while out on a walk with my BF: a book exchange in a disused phone box.

Kenwyn, Cornwall book exchange

Since discovering that, I have been attuned to this idea of books being shared in interesting places. A couple of months ago I heard a lovely documentary radio programme in the middle of the night, on the BBC World Service, about Tiny Libraries of New Zealand (listen again: The Search For Tiny Libraries).

More often than not, they are run by women volunteers; they are found the length and breadth of the country, but away from larger conurbations where ‘proper’ libraries are funded by local councils. The one thing they all have in common is they are small ~ sometimes open for just for an hour a week, or one afternoon, many have existed for decades. It is a charming and fascinating insight into the importance of books to people in communities. Have a listen. That link (above) definitely works at the moment (Sept 2015) if you are in the UK, and hopefully beyond too.

In the UK, volunteers manning Council-run libraries is becoming an increasingly familiar occurrence. It is thought there are about 350 libraries being run like this currently ~ the so-called Big Society at work. In many cases it is only this approach that is keeping the libraries open at all, with such deep cuts to our local council finances. Perhaps one of the benefits is that the library is taken firmly into the hands of the community, and locals have more of a say about how it can best serve the neighbourhood.

The Community Knowledge Hub website is a useful tool for anyone interested in exploring this further. Many of these libraries are now multi-purpose spaces, with art classes, workshops, a cafe, or even a cinema, thus increasing usage and income. Innovation and collaboration are the name of the game.

But back to the Tiny Libraries. I do so love the idea of a few books being available in rural areas, whether as a book exchange scheme in a phone box, or with a proper library card and lending system, run from someone’s shed or garage or the village hall.

Tiny library New Zealand

tiny library New Zealand

And for those of us who rather take accessing books for granted, how about this: For the past fifteen or so years, Luis Soriano, a teacher from La Gloria, in the state of Magdalena in Colombia has been loading up his donkeys, Alfa and Beto, with piles of books and heading off into the hills to spread the joy of reading to children who have never had access to them before. A tiny library on hooves. Love it.

Donkey library Colombia

Long live the library! Let me know if you have a book exchange scheme or tiny library near you.

Annie Bee x

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A Little Cornish Gem

Dydh da*

I am currently in wet and wild Cornwall. We aquaplaned down the M5 with the heating on full blast, wondering whether these ‘staycations’ are all they are cracked up to be. Thankfully we are not camping, or swimming as it is sometimes referred to here in the West Country.  I did remember to pack some annoying clichés: rain never killed anyone (oh, I think it did) and there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

This morning, with a very beady eye on the forecast, Mr Bee and I went on a bracing 5 mile trek along the Cornish Coastal path and we timed it well. Other than some slightly nerve-wracking stray cows and 2 very intrepid (mad?) runners, we met hardly a soul. While it could neither be called ‘hot’, nor ‘August-like’, we managed to stay on our feet despite the gales, dodged the showers and got back in one piece.

At this point an early lunch beckoned.

Cornwall these days has many pockets of pure foodie heaven. One of my absolute favourites is Strong Adolfo’s, a cafe on the A39 (or Atlantic Highway) which is part of the Hawksfield Cornwall site. A couple of miles from Wadebridge, it is made up of a number of units which include a fabulous speciality food store called The Arc, which stocks lots of locally sourced goodies; a beautifully curated vintage furniture store called Goose Shed; an interiors shop, Jo & Co Home, as well as an art gallery (Circle Contemporary) and The Library which Hawksfield describe as an ‘open plan office space designed for individual users who want to take the office out of the home and into a social environment where you can network and grow your business’. Sounds heavenly.

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One of the main reasons I like Strong Adolfo’s is their unfazed approach to food allergies, in my case Coeliac Disease. They take the whole gluten free issue utterly in their stride, and frankly anywhere which offers GF Frangipani Cake is going to get my vote ~ e-v-e-r-y time. The food is good value, fresh, thoughtfully put together and the surroundings are great fun.

Strong Adolfo's

We had a delicious lunch, bought heaps of treats in the deli, as well as a  new clock from Jo & Co Home. Oh and a mug with a bumble bee on it which I could not resist.

If you are anywhere near this neck of the woods I highly recommend a visit.

* “Hello” in Cornish.

Annie Bee x

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Surprising Finds #1 ~ Books In A Phone Box

I went for a long walk in the countryside with my BF a few weeks ago and came across this marvellous surprise in a tiny Cornish hamlet – an out-of-use phone box now being used as a book exchange. It was fully stocked and seemed to have a very diverse choice of reading material. Apparently they are popping up all over the place, but I had never seen one before. It made me wonder what other uses you could put old phone boxes to.

kenwyn book exchange cropped

phone box sofa

Libraries are also popping up in pubs in the UK at quite a rate. In Cornwall alone there seem to be at least a dozen of them, partly a result of the County Council’s cuts to its mobile library service. One pub, The Grenville Arms in Nanpean, incorporates a library, sub post office and shop which sells local produce.  What are the benefits? They offer a well needed service for the local community whilst cutting down on food miles; they create full and part-time employment for local people; they sell local produce which in turn helps local suppliers and they promote health and well-being in the area through the venue becoming a community meeting point.

There is a not-for-profit organisation for the UK called Pub Is The Hub http://www.pubisthehub.org.uk/  which works to promote this idea. I love it. What do you think?

post box 1

post box sheep

post boxes abandoned

green bee for signature copy

Annie Bee x

More pictures you might like: https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/phone-boxes/