They come in the form of old fridges, repurposed kitchen cupboards and even doll houses - and their numbers are exploding.
A rare site in Canberra until only a few years ago, the city is now home to more than 180 suburban street libraries, where neighbours use an honesty system to swap books of all kinds with each other.
The Little Street Library concept was founded in America by the late Todd Bol, and has since exploded with popularity all around Australia. There are currently around 3700 street libraries in the country, nearly 200 of which are in the national capital.
Pamela Zielke, who runs Pam's Pantry and gives away toys, books and craft supplies for kids, is the proud guardian of one. An early childhood educator and lover of books, Ms Zielke started her street library with the goal of rescuing books from the dump and reminding children of the joy of reading physical copies.
"We are a throw-away society, but I just love physical books," she said.
"My children never really knew their grandparents, but one of my sons was able to keep a copy of my mother's book, which he has since passed on to his girls.
"There is just something about the feel and smell of a physical book."
Ms Zielke said the street library had played a particularly important role in keeping the local community connected throughout the pandemic.
"One lady took some cook books for her husband after he lost his job during the pandemic, and he learned how to make lots of different kinds of food," she said.
"He liked it so much he decided to apply for an apprenticeship, and now he is a cook. They even dropped off some of the meals he made back to me."
At 34 Bargang Crescent, Ngunnawal, Pam's Pantry has books for children, teens and occasionally adults, a selection of toys always available, and often has themed displayed for the coming seasons. She is currently planning a Mother's Day display for busy mums and their children.
While putting up a library in your front yard was entirely voluntary, Street Libraries is a not-for-profit organisation that displays registered libraries on a map to make them easy to locate for people all over Australia.
Founder of Street Libraries Nic Lowe travelled to Portland, Oregon six years ago, where he discovered the Little Street Libraries and brought the idea back to home. The first one was started in Newtown in Sydney before spreading throughout the country.
General manager of Street Libraries Cecile Schuldiener said while the pick-up of Street Libraries in Australia was slow to begin with, the pandemic encouraged growth and community connection for people who couldn't go much further than their suburbs.
"The libraries encouraged people to meet others in their community," she said.
"It's a great ice-breaker for people with shared interests. Street Libraries are an easy way to meet like minded people in your area."
Patrons for the organisation include the likes of Tim Winton, Candice Fox and Waleed Aly.
Open to anyone and accepting all kinds of books, the libraries are designed to encourage literacy and a love of reading in the community, and togetherness within the suburbs. Passers-by, regardless of whether they live close to the library or not, can drop off books they no longer need, and pick up any that spark their interest.
Want to get involved? Here is a list of a small portion of the many street libraries located around Canberra.
Belconnen: 64 libraries in total
Gungahlin: 17 libraries in total
North Canberra: 21 libraries in total
South Canberra: 10 libraries in total
Weston Creek and Molonglo Valley: 25 libraries in total
Woden: 22 libraries in total
Tuggeranong: 30 libraries in total
These are only a small number of the many libraries in Canberra. For the full list, look towards this link.
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