PROJECT

Lending Library

Small library starts something big

In 2014, Maria Gomez Umana graduated from the Synapcity Civics Boot Camp with a burning desire: improve the city. Specifically, she wanted to develop a stronger sense of community in her Kanata Lakes neighbourhood.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

In 2014, Maria Gomez Umana graduated from the Synapcity Civics Boot Camp with a burning desire: improve the city. Specifically, she wanted to develop a stronger sense of community in her Kanata Lakes neighbourhood. She felt this west-Ottawa suburb needed more heart—an informal place where people can meet, get to know each other and discover the power of inclusivity.

PROJECT DETAIL

Drawing on her passion for literature and culture, she decided to build a miniature library to put in front of her house. This compact structure would be stuffed with books for people to borrow, so neighbours could come over and have a look—and maybe strike up conversations and feel more closely tied to their community.

Maria mobilized friends and family to collect construction materials and she contacted the City of Ottawa to find out where she would be allowed to put it, how large it’s permitted to be and other important civic details.

Soon, this labour of love was open for business. And now the library is a real neighbourhood hub. People visit the small blue structure day and night. They borrow and donate books, benefiting from and contributing to the project.

“Kids waiting for the school bus use it, as the stop is conveniently located on our driveway,” Maria says. “Last year, another friend donated a beautiful bench, so visitors can read and relax.”

Maria says it’s a good start. But she wants to do more. She plans to start a street party—to get neighbours out and engaging further.