Members at St Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Adelaide are reaching out to their local community by hosting a free street library for passersby.
Located in the church’s forecourt, the Neighbourhood Free Library contains books catering for a wide range of interests, including children’s books. People can borrow, return or take books to keep, or add to the collection 24 hours a day.
Built by carpenter Ian Wurst from a design by artist Pat Welke, the library features strip lighting, which allows it to be available for people to choose a book at any hour. St Stephen’s Pastor John Strelan blessed the library during its launch last month.
Project Coordinator Becky Llewellyn said a story about early Lutheran outreach in Adelaide was evidence that books ‘can change us, our neighbourhoods and they can change the direction of history’.
‘In October 1838, two young Germans, Pastor Christian Teichelmann and Pastor Clamor Schürmann, arrived to teach local Indigenous people’, she said. ‘They set up an open air school on the banks of the Karrawirra Parri (the River Torrens). By 1840, working with their Kaurna students, they had published a dictionary of 2000 words in the Kaurna language, its grammar and phrases.
‘Their book of Kaurna language became a seed that was planted, then forgotten for 150 years and rediscovered by Adelaide linguist Rob Amery. He has worked with the Kaurna community using this early Lutheran book over the past 30 years to bring back a language once thought “lost”. This Adelaide model of waking up a “sleeping” indigenous language has started a huge movement across the country of reclaiming local languages. All of this came from the seed of the pastors’ book.
‘May the seeds that come from books in this Neighbourhood Free Library be many and grow as it builds bonds of community here.’ Becky also encouraged local people to top up the library when there was space to do so and to ‘enjoy its fruits day or night’.
The new installation at St Stephen’s adds to a growing number of street libraries around Australia.