by Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Give N’ Take Library, located near Heckston at 1000 Slater Road, is an essential stop for anyone looking for a good read.
Angie Thompson started the library on her front porch in 2018. Since then, the library has expanded to an Amish shed in her yard.
The attention and care devoted to the library is clear. Her husband, Gary, fitted the shed with book shelves, and Angie does her best to keep donations organized alphabetically and by popularity.
Angie explains that she started the library because, “I love books, and my granddaughter loves books. She’s in Nova Scotia, but my son reads to her every single night.” There is a box devoted to kids books and other children’s trinkets that come along with the books at the front of the library.
The Give N’ Take Library also represents a solution to two problems associated with hard copy books. The first, says Angie, is that “there’s a lot of people who can’t afford books.” A free library is a clear solution: books are made completely accessible to anyone.
Secondly, books often have a short useful life span: “you read them once, and then what do you do with them?” In this sense, the library is like a recycling program. Angie says “there are many generous people in the community who give me pretty well new books. I don’t get too many that are grungy.”
Pointing to an “Open” sign on the door, Angie says, “even when the doors are closed, we’re always open.” For those who prefer to try a book before taking it home, Angie has set up a bench, overlooking her flowering garden and the surrounding farmland.
She notes that Merv, the owner of MM Books in Kemptville, is a frequent visitor to the bench, where he pores over the older books to be found in the library.
Through the pandemic, Angie has left the library open for people to use “at their own discretion.” While people were stuck at home, and our public library was only able to provide curb-side services, things got “pretty busy.” Of course, in Heckston, “pretty busy” is a relative term.
On average, the library gets at least one visitor a day. Though there is rarely a crowd, Angie says that when the library sees more than one visitor at a time, everyone seems more than happy to wait their turn to avoid crowding.
She has supplied hand sanitizer at the door of the shed, and notes that everyone she has seen has been wearing a mask.
The presence of the library is made known with a bright sign, and Angie maintains a Give N Take Facebook Page. She laughs that she does not know how to take pictures for the page, but a neighbour up the road comes over to take some; otherwise, the library depends on word of mouth.
People touring the countryside, by car or by bicycle often happen upon the library en route to Heckston’s beloved Shelly’s Kitchen.