By Steve Hubrecht

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Reading in Radium got a little bit easier last week, thanks to the Friends of the Radium Library. 

The nonprofit group, formed two years ago to support the Radium Hot Springs Public Library, spearheaded efforts that saw two Little Blue Libraries installed in the village on Tuesday, May 16.

A brand new free library box was installed by Radium Brewing, on the village’s main street and another new (and much bigger) free library box was put up in place of the longstanding smaller one on the Sable Ridge pathway near the Rotary Garden.

Plans are afoot for the small one to be moved to a location in north Radium, likely near the Copper Horn Village apartments.

“We felt that Radium is growing and expanding. There are more residents, and there are more visitors,” Friends of the Radium Library chair Linda Maurer told the Pioneer. With all the extra people in the village “people are walking around Radium all the time now. So these (the Little Blue Libraries) give them a chance to pick up a book while out and about in town.”

The boxes look a bit like literary birdhouses, with sloping, shingled roofs and glass-and-wood doors. They sit at roughly chest height (for an adult) and are an unmissable shade of turquoise baby blue.

Each Little Blue Library can hold at least 30 books, and quite possibly more (Friends of the Library volunteers have yet to really test the boxes’ maximum capacity by jamming in as many books as they can). For the Sable Ridge pathway Little Blue Library the new capacity of 30-plus books is a big jump from the 20 books that fit in the older, smaller box, which had been in place for more than a decade.

Maurer said it was high time to replace the older Sable Ridge path library box, not just because it had been subject to a fair bit of wear and tear, but because it no longer seemed capable of holding enough tomes to satisfy the public’s reading demands.

“We have a volunteer looking after it and they had to go every Friday, just to keep it filled,” said Maurer. “It was clear we needed something bigger.”

Once discussion started on that idea, the Friends quickly decided there should also be a Little Blue Library somewhere uptown as well. The spot at Radium Brewing fits that bill perfectly, explained Maurer. “It’s very accessible and very easily seen by passersby,” she noted.

The two new Little Blue Libraries will be well stocked with “a really good variety of reading — historical books, fiction, nonfiction, autobiographies, and children’s books. We try to have something for everyone,” said Maurer. The larger size of the Little Blue Libraries even allows some coffee table books to be put in.

Radium Hot Springs Public Library director Jacqueline Kozak and library board vice-chair Anne Jardine issued a joint statement expressing their gratitude to the Friends of the Radium Library as well as to the many businesses and individuals involved in this project. 

“The Friends are a hard-working, dedicated team of individuals. They put a tremendous amount of time and effort into finding the resources, community partners, and convenient locations for the Little Blue Libraries. We hope people will enjoy them,” said Kozak and Jardine.

The Friends of the Radium Library also extended thanks to the businesses, organizations, and individuals who sponsored, donated to, or otherwise helped with the Little Blue Libraries.

The nonprofit group will be holding an ‘adventure auction’ starting this July as a fundraiser for the library. This event will see a number of local businesses donating something to be auctioned off. The catch is that members of the public will need to visit each business in person to find out exactly what is up for auction (not unlike a sort of giant, village-wide, in-person scavenger hunt).

“It will help people realize what our businesses here in Radium have to offer, as well as help the library,” said Maurer.

Stay tuned to future issues of the Pioneer for more information on that event. In the meantime, check out the Friends of the Radium Library Facebook page to find out more about the group, or contact them at [email protected].