Tucked away in a corner on the second floor of the South Wing, just outside of room 214, is a new addition to the school that is as mysterious as it is momentous.
A look behind the large red lounge seats reveals a recently added wooden cabinet lined with books of all sizes and genres, including novels, joke books, and nearly half a row of Qur’ans.
Engraved upon the top arch are the words “Durham College Little Library.” Whoever built the piece has the intention of getting people to become excited about reading again.
The amount of buzz surrounding the makeshift container of old and new literary tales should be a good indication of its early success.
Examination of the box reveals no creator. There is, however, a note left behind that relays a familiar system.
Readers are encouraged to take a book, and leave a book. Also printed on the palm sized card left behind is a message about literacy: “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.”
Students have, in fact, been using it. Brandon Remani, a first year Police Foundations student, swapped out a John Grisham novel for something he had never read before.
“Muslim intolerance is such a huge issue in society today,” said Remani. “I figured it might be an interesting to educate myself and read the Qur’an.”
Little libraries are not exclusive to the Durham College campus.
The township of Uxbridge installed two little libraries in 2013.
Additionally, the Rotary Club of Peterborough-Kawartha installed 25 little libraries around the area in celebration of the club’s 25th anniversary last June.
Peterborough residents reacted positively to the initiative. Twitter user Carling Stephen took to social media and said, “How cool is #Ptbo?…I love these cute book boxes!”
The response to the cabinet at Durham College and UOIT has been similar.
Campus general reference librarian Trish Johns-Wilson was unaware of the school’s book cubby, but was thrilled to hear someone went to the lengths they did to promote literacy.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Johns-Wilson said with a smile. “Anything that gets people reading.”
She also said it encourages those who do not want to make the trek to the main library to read more.
Other initiatives have even developed around campus to build a literacy community.
The DC/UOIT Reading Club has garnered the attention of students through promotion posters and social media since its founding in September. The Facebook page currently has 95 members.
Additionally, “Caught Reading” posters are plastered around the school as part of the Library and Information Technician Program literacy initiative. The program is designed to teach students certain skills in technical and public services areas such as libraries, and promotes literacy around Durham College through a variety of different ways.
This is where the mystery of the little library ends.
Haley Letch and Stephanie Merchant, both students in the Library and Information Technician Program, dreamt the idea of the book box and made it a reality.
“I remembered reading about little libraries and thought it was a great idea that we could bring to Durham College,” Letch said. “Our message that we want people to take away from this is ‘Great reads come from small places’ and we really just want students to read more and to keep on reading.”
How people read books have changed over the years with the introduction of ebooks, and tablet readers like the Kobo, Kindle, and iPad, but according to a study by Book Net Canada, physical print is still the most popular method of reading. The census reveals 93 per cent of respondents read print, and 58 per cent read an ebook in 2014.
There are no USB drives or digital download codes at the little library in the South Wing. Only old school text is displayed behind the crystal clear glass, and physical conditions of the books widely vary.
Letch and Merchant have succeeded in what their little note said they wished to accomplish. Literacy has become a conversation around campus, and the little library is a big contributor.