Couple opens library in their front yard

Allison Howard and Dave Corbeil like looking out their window and seeing people dropping off or picking up books in the front yard.

The couple are one of two in Penticton now offering what is known as a Little Free Library,  a worldwide movement focused on promoting a love of reading.

"We like the surprise element, and it's like a nice little community contribution," said Corbeil. "Just recently a young woman pushing a stroller, stopped, picked up a book and put it in her stroller."

The couple had been thinking about such an effort for a long time, when they got an email from the Shatford Centre regarding an authors and artists faire.

There, they saw a Little Free Library booth, with information on the movement. They contacted a woman named Robin Robertson who had set up a library in Penticton, and learned about what they needed to do on the official website, littlefreelibrary.org.

Corbeil, a carpenter by trade, built the small box housing the books and  put it out in the frozen ground in December.

"We picked a tough time to put it up, but we were keen," he said

They gave their creation the unofficial name, Polka Dot Library, because their back fence on the lane side is painted with polka dots.

The way it works is people take a book or leave a book all free of charge.

They started with 20 of their own books on display and the collection has since grown to 30.

There is a mix for everyone, from adult  to children's reading material.

"There are no time limits, no fines, just enjoy the book," said Corbeil.

The public will get a chance to see their handiwork on display at the sixth annual Family Literacy Day celebration this Saturday at the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre.

This year, the theme is Unplug and Play, to promote learning throughout the whole week, Jan. 20 to 26.

On Saturday, visitors will be invited to participate in song, dance, storytelling and more. Corbeil and Howard will be there to share information about their library and how to get involved.

"We are tying it in with Family Literacy Day, which is about creating an awareness of the importance of literacy," said Joan Chambers, the coordinator of Literacy Now South Okanagan Similkameen.

As for the Penticton couple, they are looking forward to doing their part.

"Anything that we can do that helps promote reading and appreciation of books is a bonus," said Howard.

Their Little Free Library is at 580 Braid Street. 

"We are hoping that people come and look at it and see what a neat idea it is and that it spreads around," said Corbeil.



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