Little library opens in Orchard Park

Bookworms big and small met on March 23 to open a little free library in Orchard Park.

Little Free Library at Orchard Park
Children rush to add the first books at the new Little Free Library built at Orchard Park by Andrew MacDonald, right, Bill Wrigley, left, and Andrew Heck (not shown).

Planted in front of a children’s’ playground with an extra-tall shelf for picture books, it’s the tenth little free library in the Beach and the first one to go up in a Toronto city park.

“It was really a result of people just being together in the park and thinking about it,” says organizer Andrew MacDonald.

MacDonald built the Orchard Park library with neighbour Chris Heck and Bill Wrigley, who built Toronto’s first little free library outside his home on Lee Avenue.

Painted fire engine red with a cedar-shake roof, the little free library at Orchard Park was funded with some of the $1,000 in seed money that Wrigley recently won from the Awesome Foundation, “a worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe.”

Looking something like a big, weatherproof birdhouse, the first little free library popped up in Madison, Wisconsin in 2009 as a tribute to the mother of Todd Bol, a former teacher and book lover.

Together with a friend, Bol has since built 100 more little libraries in the Wisconsin area and, after launching a website dedicated to the cause, they say there are now between 5,000 and 6,000 little free libraries in 36 countries.

After just over a year with one in his front yard, Bill Wrigley says the little free library is a great idea that people are quick to appreciate.

“We’ve had no vandalism and no graffiti, none,” he said. “And that says something.”

In the beginning, Wrigley said he had to keep feeding new books into his two-shelf library. But now that it averages some 50 books exchanged every week, he said the library mostly takes care of itself, with a good mix of books for children, teens and adults.

Books aside, Wrigley says the libraries are a great way to meet new people.

“We have neighbours who’ve lived five doors apart for 20 years and never even said hello,” he said. “Now they gather in front of the library and get into conversations.

“That’s what makes it worthwhile.”

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