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Book Tree project will be unique in Canada

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Judy Mulvhill, manager of child care services for the County of Renfrew

Judy Mulvhill, manager of child care services for the County of Renfrew

Renfrew County has the unique opportunity of hosting a project that will be the first of its kind in Canada.

The Book Tree allows children and adults the opportunity to drop off so-called gently-loved books, pick up free books and track registered books travelling from tree to tree anywhere in the county.

Four municipalities, including Petawawa, Pembroke, Arnprior and Killaloe, have agreed in principle to host a tree, while Deep River is in preliminary talks to act as a site.

Last fall, The County of Renfrew’s Best Start Network received a $25,000 Community Action Research and Innovation Fund grant from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to host five pilot Book Trees. The funding will cover the cost of developing Book Trees and support material. County manager of child care services Judy Mulvihill said the project will not be too ambitious in the beginning.

“It’s new and we’re starting small because we want it to be successful,” she said.

It will be modeled after the so-called Book Forest established in Berlin, Germany in 2006. There, a co-op of apprentices from the forestry, carpentry, cabinetmaking, media design and printing industries came together to create the unique structure. The network is working in cooperation with host-community libraries who are on board with the initiative, added Mulvihill.

“They are extremely excited about this project,” she said. “They see it as an enhancement of the library services and not one that is going to be a duplication.”

The Book Trees are usually fashioned out of local wood, will stand six feet tall and contain approximately 12 weather-proofed shelves. A company based in Calabogie will be making the county trees out of fallen tree trunks. Each tree installation will also feature an educational component explaining how logging plays an integral role in the Ottawa Valley.

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

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