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Drayton's Little Red Library turns literacy into local landmark

Located on Wood Street, the British telephone booth-turned little free library is open 24/7 from May to October

DRAYTON – A red British telephone booth-turned-little free library is making literacy a landmark in Mapleton. 

Located on Wood Street, Drayton resident and library owner Glynis Belec said she recruited her husband to create a red British telephone booth-themed library this spring as a way to upgrade the two red-roofed little free libraries previously installed on the edge of the couple's lawn in 2020. 

"I'm British...and I have a passion for red so I thought a phone booth would be interesting," said Belec, an author and former publisher.

Nicknamed the Little Red Library, the library fits one person at a time and is the size of a small closet- stacked floor to ceiling with a few hundred books, puzzles and games at any time, ranging in age and genre and all visible from the booth's street-facing windows. 

"Words cannot express how special (this) library is," said frequent LRL patron and Drayton resident Joanne Wiersma. "It's so special, it brings so much joy to the community." 

A tutor for almost 20 years, Belec has always believed in the power of reading, especially for children and said it "warms her heart" to see residents and tourists pop into the booth and come out with a book and a smile. 

"Reading is such a basic necessity for anything in life...if you can't read that affects many aspects of your life," said Belec. "I think it's so important, especially to start with the children to get them to have that desire and that love of literacy and wanting to pick up a book not because it's required reading in school but just for the love of it." 

"A busy little place," Belec said she welcomes several people and families daily and restocks the library once or twice a day on average, largely relying on donations to keep the shelves full. 

"We have such a generous community," said Belec. "All I have to do is ask and people will drop things off." 

Open 24/7, Belec said she typically opens the library from May until October or the first snowfall and has gone as far as to install LED lights inside the booth for night use. 

"Of course with it being a new library with a different look people think it's a little bit of a novel idea. People take pictures and photo ops,” said Belec. "In the summer it's ridiculously busy. Every day you see someone in it and lots of people throughout the day.”

Some people return the books, others prefer to keep them. Either way, Belec doesn't mind as long as they're enjoyed and are respectful, even though she does enjoy getting new or return books to replenish the collection. 

"My mission all along, for many many years, was to promote literacy," said Belec. "I'm not trying to usurp any public library but there's some people who don't go to the big public libraries and my goal is to spark an interest in reading so perhaps they will visit them." 

Anyone interested in donating to the Little Red Library is encouraged to drop off their donations in the drop-off box on Belec's porch. 

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program

About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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