Lilliput Libraries

by Insiders Dunedin

Have a Look, Take a Book

With the fashion for tiny houses galloping the globe, it wouldn’t be long before the principal of architectural miniaturisation was applied to civic buildings. So it is that Lilliput Libraries − little free neighbourhood libraries big enough to house a gnome and a pile of tomes − are manifesting all over Dunedin, like the municipal victims of an alien shrink ray without all the associated screaming and running and giant spider business.

The brain child of a mad scientist with a penchant for candy-coated colour schemes? Mwahaha! Actually, no. Ruth Arnison, herself a tiny (ex) librarian is the creator of Poems in the Waiting Room, now in its 30th edition, and a woman who just can’t stop being awesome. Rallying around local artists such as Janet de Wagt, Pamela Brown, Sarah Flourish, Pauline Bellamy and Ewan McDougall for the first ten Lilliputs set the bar extremely high in terms of decorative standards, meaning each is a thing of beauty, complete little worlds of wonder within and without; a joy for the pavement perambulator who comes across one outside the home of its ‘Guardian.’ Because there’s nothing like discovering a social project both charming and generous to make your day. Plus, there’s the added bonus of snooping on neighbourhood reading tastes: John le Carré? Well, well Mrs Lamington, didn’t see you as the spy thriller type …

The Lilliput Libraries are open all hours and no one tells you to shush. And did I mention the books are free? Something which occasioned a gobble-fest of astonished reader-greed in a certain street which will remain nameless (their entire library was emptied in a single night) but that was just that one time and the poor soul responsible probably hadn't read a good book for ages; for the most part people abide by the ‘take one now, leave one later’ mantra.

Lovely publishers like Gecko Press supply boxes of children’s literature, Resene donate the paint and books can be left in-store there, too. The Taieri Blokes Shed and inmates at Otago Corrections in the midst of building 30 more, wee free libraries will soon be popping all over, like mushrooms worthy of Alice dotted from Port Chalmers to Mornington and all parts north, south, east and west.

Search out all the Lilliput libraries for yourself, travelling in giant steps a la Gulliver (the books remain normal size). Take some small people with you, they’ll love it.

There are Lilliputs in Merchiston st, Musslburgh Rise, Muri st, Aramoana, Cashel st, Lees st, Rosebury st, Waimea ave, Grieg st Broad Bay, at the Kissing Gate cafe in Middlemarch and loads more to come. Check out:

Post submitted by Lisa Scott

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