Building a love of reading one shelf at a time

ASBC launches a community bookshelf initiative

To celebrate “I Love to Read Month” with arts students, ASBC has set up a new community library bookshelf in the Arts Lounge, located on the second floor of the Fletcher Argue building. The Arts Student Body Council (ASBC) is launching a new initiative to bring more community to the Arts Lounge. 

Bianca Siem, director of arts services with ASBC, and Daniel Hwang, associate racialized representative with ASBC, were both inspired by the public community Little Free Libraries (LFLs) they saw in their childhoods. LFLs are tiny swap spots set up across the city where people can take and return books for free. 

Hwang told the Manitoban that he feels a similar concept in the student lounge would be “great.” 

Hwang encourages students from various departments to view it as “a form of cultural exchange through a bookshelf,” adding that students have plenty of books they need to get rid of and that this is a great way to do so. 

Students will be expected to follow the same honour system from the LFL with the bookshelf — anyone will be able to take or leave books as they please. 

Siem said that sometimes the Arts Lounge can feel like it is missing something. With such a diverse spectrum of subjects ranging from English to politics, she said she wanted to bring something to the student lounge to have students connect with each other.  

Hwang’s suggestion to bring a LFL to the Lounge really “resonated” with Siem, who also has nostalgic memories of a little library of her own. “I grew up in a small neighbourhood as well, and you always see those book boxes when you go for walks,” she said. 

“It really makes the community cute and family-friendly, and I think that’s something the Arts Lounge is missing.”   

Siem hopes the bookshelf can be something people browse through at their leisure or potentially pick up a book that is required reading for free, rather than buying it at the UM Bookstore. 

ASBC executive members set the shelf up and provided an initial float of books to start with, which they had purchased from one of the used book sale events in the tunnels of Fletcher Argue during the school year.   

In the spirit of students connecting over books, Hwang said that it can be hard to read books outside of school. His favourite book is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald — of which he owns six copies. 

Siem said her current favourite book is Meet Me at The Lake by Carley Fortune as a novel that is great for summer reading.

For students considering what to bring to the shelf, Siem said with the variety of students in the lounge, she anticipates that books given to the bookshelf could range from classic reads, such as the works of Fitzgerald to “BookTok” novels. 

The bookshelf is located inside the ASBC executive offices. However, students can request access during school hours. Donors can bring their books either to Siem’s office in 206 Fletcher Argue or another ASBC executive’s office.