Book lover James, five, inspires first Little Free Library in Newton Poppleford

Stuart Ireland and his sons James and Harlan with their community library. shs 01-17TI 4885. Picture

Stuart Ireland and his sons James and Harlan with their community library. shs 01-17TI 4885. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Family builds community library outside home to encourage wider reading

A five-year-old bookworm has inspired his parents to build a free library to share and encourage reading among the community in Newton Poppleford.

Stuart and Carly Ireland opened the new village exchange point – the first of its kind in East Devon - outside their Lark Rise home before Christmas and say the idea is already going down a storm.

Carly read about the global Little Free Libraries initiative early last year and the family sought out examples on a trip to the United States. They found the home-built book exchanges so inspirational that they decided to create one for their own community. Stuart said: “My eldest son, James, loved the libraries so we decided to build one. I built it in my garage and James helped as well. Several months and many trips to a DIY store later and we’d finally finished it. We stocked it with books we had lying around the house and some new ones, and people have been coming along and taking books and bringing them back.

“If people want to come and bring a book, or take one home, they can. The idea is to get more people reading. It’s just a bit of fun and it’s a community resource and a chance for people to meet at the library.


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“James is a really keen reader and that’s one of the main things that inspired us to build this. A lot of our friends have children who are less keen on reading and we thought if we could build a bit of excitement, it may encourage them – and it seems to be working. People say their children see the library and are begging to be taken along.

“I do not even do woodwork as a hobby, so it was tough building it. James loves it. My littlest one, Harlan, is not quite two, but he always wants to see if there are new books there. It’s been great for us as well because we have new books to read, we take them in, read them and then put them back.”

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The library is in Lark Rise and has books for adults and children. The Irelands say anyone is welcome to come along to browse, borrow a book and swap it when they have finished.

Read more about the initiative via: www.littlefreelibrary.org

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