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Book boxes in Esquimalt foster sense of community

Neighbours and dog walkers have been stopping by Marie Fidoe’s Esquimalt house more often in recent weeks. On Nov. 3, Fidoe erected a book box outside her home at 1185 Old Esquimalt Rd. It’s been an instant hit.
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Marie Fidoe says that, soon after she built a book box outside her home in Esquimalt, neighbours started dropping by to bring and to borrow from the shelves. The Esquimalt Residents Association plans to erect 10 more book boxes.

Neighbours and dog walkers have been stopping by Marie Fidoe’s Esquimalt house more often in recent weeks.

On Nov. 3, Fidoe erected a book box outside her home at 1185 Old Esquimalt Rd. It’s been an instant hit.

The box looks like a large birdhouse with shingled roof and clear door displaying two shelves of books for sharing.

“It’s been amazing,” Fidoe said. “People say, ‘What a great idea.’

“All over the neighbourhood people have been bringing books. It promotes a sense of community and it allows you to get to know your neighbours more.”

It’s the fourth book box and sixth book-exchange site that Fidoe knows of in Esquimalt.

Recently, the Esquimalt Residents Association decided it would organize the installation of 10 book-box sites in the area to foster a greater sense of community, Fidoe said.

The association members were inspired by a quaint book box on Munro Street, which runs parallel to the waterfront from Saxe Point Park to Fleming Beach, she said. The members wanted to spread the love of reading throughout the city.

“It’s something simple that anyone can do,” Fidoe said. “It doesn’t take a bylaw or legislation or permit, and it promotes a sense of sharing.”

The Esquimalt association earmarked funds for the construction of the boxes by local carpenters.

Fidoe is working on a map and photos of the book boxes in Esquimalt.

Book box libraries can be found in several Vancouver Island cities, including Victoria and Nanaimo.

In 2008, for instance, community planner Angela Evans built a book-exchange box in front of her home on Clare Street in Victoria. After she died in 2012, residents in the region built more boxes in her honour. Other book boxes in Greater Victoria include 1015 Falkland Rd. in Oak Bay, 1026 Clare St., 123 Ladysmith St., 1029 Queens Ave. and 1219 Hillside Ave. in Victoria, 1250 Oakmount Rd., 125 Maddock Ave. East, 2973 Orillia St.and 71 Obed Ave. in Saanich, and 3845 Duke Rd. in Metchosin.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com