Not all libraries have closed their doors this week.
The Literary Owl, a registered Little Free Library location, is open as usual in hopes of bringing some brightness in the form of books to these recent dark times.
The little butter-yellow-and-periwinkle-blue library, made from an old china hutch, stands tall outside a house on Mayfair Avenue in Chilliwack.
Since it’s a low-contact area and there’s a fairly minor risk of any contamination, owner Rachelle Loeppky has decided to keep it open.
“It’s not an inside situation,” Loeppky said. “We’re not all crowded standing inside looking at every single book. Most people come, they read the title, they grab the one with the title that suits them and off they go with their book.”
She has, however, implemented some new measures recommended by the Little Free Library as a result of COVID-19.
She disinfects the library daily, has put hand sanitizer outside of it for people to use before opening its doors, and posted a note on the door asking that anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms to not take any books.
“I haven’t [closed] it down yet. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong,” Loeppky said.
She was encouraged to keep it open after a friend of hers posted on social media that she relies on the local libraries for her reading material. Her friend had missed the opportunity to stock up on books before the Fraser Valley Regional Library closed all of its branches on Monday.
Loeppky piped up, stating her library was still open.
“The reaction has been really, really good. I haven’t gotten any negative response. I haven’t had anybody say ‘why are you still open?’”
And she’s glad she has kept the Literary Owl open, because although she’s seen a slight drop in customers this past week, they’re still stopping by.
She gets about 30 people or families a week who visit. The library is quite large with three shelves: kids’ books are at the bottom, non-fiction genres like romance, westerns, crime and thrillers sit on the middle shelf, and others like fiction and books turned into movies are on the top shelf.
Sometimes she sits and knits by the window, watching the little library.
“People pop up and they smile and wave. It’s really nice to be able to see the people using it. It’s quite a nice little community of people.”
The library holds about 120 books, and Loeppky has another 600 books on hand in her basement. She buys the books herself from local thrift stores and flea markets.
Usually the rule is “take a book, leave a book,” but right now people are just being asked to take a book.
For those who prefer, Loeppky will even put some books in a bag and leave it on her front porch for people to pick up. They simply need to message her through Facebook to arrange that. You can find the Literary Owl on Facebook by searching “The Literary Owl – Little Free Library.”
For now, the library will remain open and it will be stocked regularly.
“It would break my heart to empty it because there’s still people stopping by to get books,” Loeppky said.
The Literary Owl is located at 46521 Mayfair Ave. and is open 24 hours a day. It is one of five registered Little Free Library locations in Chilliwack.