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Fostering a sense of community for all ages

HOBART’S streetscapes have received a much-needed splash of colour and fun thanks to the creative efforts of local community members involved in the Love Our Street West Hobart community initiative.

Spearheaded by the West Hobart Pedestrian Improvements Project, the initiative saw the City of Hobart work with members of the West Hobart community to design creative activities that enhance walkability and bring colour to the neighbourhood.

Among these activities was the design, build and installation of two brand new “street libraries” for the community to share books, encourage a love of reading and connect residents with each other.

The street libraries were recently completed and are located on Lansdowne Crescent (at the entrance to the West Hobart Oval) and at the corner of the Molle and Goulburn Street.

Tasmanian-based artist Sheree Martin, who is originally from New Zealand, was responsible for the project design and worked with local primary schools and residents from AA Lord Retirement Village to create and paint the designs for the street libraries.

These libraries follow the philosophy of take a book and leave a book.

The project kicked off with a community morning tea where grade two students from Landsdowne Crescent Primary School and Goulburn Street Primary School met with the residents of AA Lord Retirement Village to read books aloud together.

The students were asked for their feedback on how the shared reading experience made them feel.

Their comments were used as the inspiration for the design which came from the sense of warmth and the feeling of a big warm community hug.

“The design was about bringing together the adult/elder and child/student in a hug while reading a book together,” Ms Martin said.

“It’s really all about the process, especially with a fabulous outcome – an authentic process is always first and foremost.

“For the street library project this process was all about community connection, which has been so heart-warming to both observe and be immersed in.

“We are now able to continue to celebrate it every time we swap our books in the new library boxes – it’s just fabulous.”

Students were involved with the application of the design to the boxes and creating an interior lining.

They added their own finishing touches to the doors and roof of the libraries.

Two residents from AA Lord Retirement Village also joined in the painting experience.

“The Goulburn Street Library looks amazing, so colourful and inviting,” Goulburn Street Primary principal Gay Cummings said.

“The design overlay is stunning and I can see adult and child representing the magic of sharing books – it’s both clever and creative.”

The libraries have been registered with Street Libraries Australia, which maintains a database of libraries nationwide and a mission of having 5000 libraries registered across Australia by December 2021.

To locate street libraries, visit www.streetlibrary.org.au.

Caption: Landsdowne Crescent Primary School grade two students with librarians Carol Nichols, Pam Allen and Marg Jennings at the completed book exchange. Photo credit: Sheree Martin.

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About the Author: Hobart Observer

The Hobart Observer is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 24,000 homes and businesses in and around the City of Hobart. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

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