What could be better than books, colouring, new friends, and sunshine? If you ask me, not much. Our new pop-up library program in Victoria Park was exactly that: a peaceful oasis of fun and a lively discussion of media.
A couple of months ago, a few people told me they wished they had an opportunity to make more book-loving friends. The library already has a lot of fantastic opportunities for that – book clubs, game nights, knitting circles. But these people were looking for something very casual – something akin to spending the afternoon with old friends. I thought, if anyone’s going to make that happen, it’s the library.
So we did. We brought blankets, pencil crayons, colouring sheets, a bookshelf, and approximately 70 hand-picked books to Victoria Park every other Wednesday afternoon during July and August. We drew chalk murals, pointing people our way. We even brought a computer and a bar-code scanner so people could check out materials or sign up for new library cards.
While a few people attended purposefully, most of our Books in the Park participants were just wandering through Victoria Park at the right time. Children were drawn in by books like Where’s Waldo and This Is Not My Hat. Children-at-heart were attracted to our “grown up” colouring sheets. Some grabbed a book, found a comfy spot, and read for a while. Others formed a circle and chatted about Canadian literature, magic realism, and the feasibility of elf-dwarf romances. Most of us left with a few new books on our to-read list.
One of the comments I heard often during Books In The Park was that Kitchener is really changing what it means to be a “library,” and I think that’s true. We’re more than a brick-and-mortar home for books; we’re a place of connection and community. At Books in the Park we brought library books and librarians to people who hadn’t been to the library in years. We showcased some of the hidden gems in our collections. We gave book-lovers a chance to meet each other, and encouraged critical discussion of media.
I feel lucky to have met such interesting and engaging book lovers at Books in the Park (even though we might not all agree on the merits of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit movies!) Books in the Park was our happy place. It may be over for now, but the memory will give me warm-fuzzies to tide me over until next year.
If you missed Books in the Park but want to be part of another “no homework required” informal book club, check out PubLit, held at the Firkin at the Tannery in downtown Kitchener each month. And if you like meeting new people, learning new games, and drinking free coffee? Come hang out at the new Forest Heights Board Game Café, Mondays and Tuesdays this fall.