Community Bookcases were first developed in Germany in the 1990’s.  In 2002 a female interior designer won the Bonn community Foundation award for her bookcase design and contribution to community, and since then they have really taken off with some incredible and fun designs!  In the United States, an organization started in 2010, which promotes “Little Free Libraries”.  They estimate there are over 25,000 little bookcases around the world in 56 countries.

Nanaimo’s first bookcase appeared on Irwin Street in the South End as part of their initiative to take back their community in 2008, and it worked!

The first on in NOCA’s neighbourhood was in the back alley between Pine and Machleary close to Bowen Park and that was built in 2011.  It’s taken care of by about eight households.  However lots of people from the surrounding neighbourhood contribute too.  The yoga studio’s bookcase on Machleary opposite the baseball park was built very shortly afterwards and is used by everyone attending Kelly’s classes.  And the grand bookcase (which used to be a rifle cabinet) on Campbell right near Pine was the last addition and it is well used as it is in a very prominent spot.  Over the years they have added a bench, lovely little painted birdhouses and a smaller bookcase, which is used these days for food and toiletries for folks in need.  Brechin Hill Community Association also built their Book Nook in 2013.

Aside from the fact that many of the bookcases are little works of art and joyful, there is no question that they:


Nanaimo City staff saw the benefits of community bookcases and decided to fund the building and installation of about 40 of them around the city in 2015 and 2016.  A committee was set up to look at where they could all go and people made applications to have one of them in their front garden.  Ed Poli built them all and they have been set up all around Nanaimo neighbourhoods.  We like to think our presentations to  the City on the benefits of community bookcases helped spark their initiative! (Michele Hillier,  author of the history on Little Libraries. Original group that created the presentation).

Leadership Vancouver Island Group’s “Spread The Word” was organized to bring together community partners in the growth and maintenance of the existing Little Library program thru further promotion and partners to make this happen, located on the bottom of this page.

If you are interested in becoming a “Little Librarian” or have a “Little Library” in need of repair, email us at for more information and we will connect you with a community partner to make this happen.