Self-Guided Street Library Walking Tour

My project was made with the Street Library Australia organisation, based in Sydney’s Inner West with their presence spreading across the nation as the number of these yard-based homes for books continue to grow. Whilst it is still in its infancy, the Street Library Australia organisation continues to grow and looking back at the scheme’s beginning shows where this success stems from. Thus, when meeting with the founder and general manager of the organisation we decided that it would be most beneficial to focus on the ‘birthplace’ of the organisation, Sydney’s Inner West. As we began to formulate different ideas for the project, we came to the conclusion that a walking tour of the Newtown and Erskineville area would be most achievable and advantageous in showing the successes of this scheme. The creation of a walking tour had the ability to highlight and further the organisation’s goals of literacy encouragement, community enhancement and the increase in Street Libraries.
A central part of the research which I undertook in order to create the walking tour were interviews held with Street Librarians. It was through this strategy that I realised how important the community aspect is to the organisation as many Street Librarians were most impressed with the way in which the Street Libraries had helped them to get to know neighbours better, meet people whom they otherwise would not have crossed paths with and create a meeting point. Thus, the questions I asked the Street Librarians focused on their personal history with the scheme and the community advantages which they had noticed in relation to it. By keeping the questions general, it allowed me to learn through personal anecdotes and as each person’s experience was different, they could share their own story.
I originally planned to create a walking tour to show the abundance of Street Libraries in the Newtown and Erskineville areas and the way in which this organisation promotes literacy. However, these interviews allowed me to realise the importance of the sense of community which they promote. Through this walking tour, I was able to highlight the way in which a community of Street Libraries has the ability to bring people together and strengthen ties in the local area. By creating a walking tour, I demonstrated that this is a beneficial social and community strategy which can be mimicked in other areas. This advantageous quality is becoming clearer as councils have begun to notice these benefits and subsequently work with and promote the Street Library organisation.
I deliberated for a long time over what would be the best way to format my walking tour. I brought together all of my data first, in order to assess what was the best way to make a walking tour which was both accessible and easy to follow. After considering a walking tour app or a physical pamphlet, I decided that the best strategy was to create a blog-style website. This way, I was not limited by size restrictions, proximity or pre-made templates, but could instead build a format which suited my project. When building this website, a vital aspect which I focused on was the ability for this to be accessed by both laptop and mobile devices. This was integral, as I wanted people to be able to complete the tour whilst following the directions on the website, thus requiring portability. In addition, the blog-style that I built allowed for all information to be presented on one page, making it easy to follow without needing to click onto other pages, especially while walking.
While I was researching pre-existing walking tours, I came across a postcard style printable walking tour. I thought that this would work well to go alongside my website as this version is a physical copy. This summarised form can be distributed as an advertisement for the organisation, with links to the walking tour for more information and is reachable for people that do not have easy access to technology.
Overall, the walking tour which I created evolved significantly since the project was decided on. While I originally focused on the literary benefits of the scheme, it shifted into highlighting the community aspect. My aim is that the walking tour which I have created will highlight the community benefits of the Street Library organisation, and thus prompt the creation of more Street Library communities, contributing to the organisation’s goal to have 5000 by December 2021.
Street Library Walking Tour –
Street Library Australia Organisation –

Written in the Pages

History and literature are tightly linked, and have a multidirectional, relational connection. That is, literature can both reflect and embody history, allowing for an accessible insight into the past for future generations, and influence history by bringing to the fore new beliefs, understandings and norms whilst spreading ideas throughout society.
When I was originally faced with the task of determining an organisation to work with for a project, I spent hours fruitlessly scrolling through the wide array of not-for profit organisations on my local council’s website. After realising how difficult it was to narrow down this vast array of organisations, I began to think about how I could incorporate my interests into this task. Thus, as a history and english major I decided to try to merge both sides of my degree and remembered a scheme that I had seen and heard a little bit about previously, the Street Library Organisation.
I made contact with the Street Library Organisation and began brainstorming some ways in which I could create a suitable project in collaboration with this organisation. After meeting with members from the organisation and discussing a few different project possibilities, we decided that the most suitable and mutually beneficial project to create would be a walking tour based around the Erskineville and Newtown area. By presenting this on a public platform, this task aims to spread awareness of this organisation, particularly as it aims to grow. This area of focus will allow for an exploration of some of the first Street Libraries in Sydney, providing insights into their local impact from some of the Street Library owners.
I hope that this project will highlight the value of this organisation, both in its ability to encourage reading as well as inspiring a sense of community. The reliance on books to be donated allows for a wide range of literature to be available through this scheme, with books targeting all groups in society and of all genres.