Red Deer’s Books on the Bus program has captured the attention of transit riders and readers.
Since January, riders have been encouraged to take a book, read it and share it with others or return it to the free mini libraries travelling the city’s streets.
Books are stored in containers located behind the bus driver’s seat.
“It started as a pilot project and it was so successful we’re continuing it. We’re currently on eight buses. It started out with four buses and we hope to expand it again in the fall,” said Dianna Souveny, community facilitator with the city’s social planning department, on Tuesday.
Souveny said the program was initiated by the city’s social planning department and while a report on the program is not yet complete, several thousand books have so far been distributed.
Most of the books stocked on buses have been donated and it now relies entirely on donations. Books for children, youth and adults are accepted, but they must be paperbacks in good condition. Books for children and youth are especially in high demand.
She said as the first program of its kind in Canada, and perhaps North America, Books on the Bus has received attention in the province and beyond.
“Family and Community Support Services Association of Alberta would like this to become a provincial project.”
Books on the Bus has expanded to Sorensen Station where two library book carts are kept in the bus station shelter during the day.
“I often walk through Sorensen Station to see what’s going on with the books and often see people, especially young people, going through the book shelves and picking out books. It’s great.”
Volunteers from Cosmos restock the books on the buses and at the bus station.
Souveny said the next step will be the development of book exchanges in the form of more free, little libraries called Books about Town in the region.
Paperbacks can be donated to Books on the Bus by dropping them off at the Recreation Centre, Collicutt Centre, G.H. Dawe Community Centre, Sorensen Station, Cultural Services office, Kimmotion Family Day Home, Red Deer Child Care, and Cosmos.
Partners in the program include the Red Deer & District Family and Community Support Services, Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance, Cosmos, Red Deer Public Library and Red Deer Transit.