A novel community idea

Southbank residents Bridget and Shane Fernando have recently set up business Frankie Walter Peta – a share library and cafe at Freshwater Place with the intention of building community.

When they first moved to Southbank five years ago, they said that, while they had instantly fallen in love with the area, they noticed that apartment living could be isolating and they wanted to create a hub for the community.

When the opportunity at Freshwater Place came up in August this year, Bridget said she and Shane had decided to take a leap of faith to follow their lifelong dream of combining business and community development.

“We’ve been so chuffed by the enthusiasm building around the share library,” she said.

“We wanted to create a space that customers could feel at home in, and the idea of the library was embraced instantly by local residents and workers alike who said they had been waiting for something like this for ages!”

Share libraries (also known as “street libraries”) are Australia’s version of the US “Little Free Libraries” – a grassroots initiative established out of a love for literature and a wish to share the joy of reading with everybody.

The concept is that visitors are free to borrow or take a book in exchange for another book.

American Todd Bol, who built a small wooden library shelf in his front garden to honour the passing of his mother who loved books, founded the movement in 2009. The concept has now spread to over 70 countries and there are over 50,000 share libraries registered worldwide.

“Southbank is not just where we live, it’s where we call home and we are so excited to share that feeling with other people too,” Shane said.

The share library and cafe has been open for several weeks now and Bridget and Shane have plans to continue to build a sense of community by opening up for book launches, spoken word events and meet-up groups.


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