Sarah Rajkumar Maraj is giving everyone access to books of all genres with her Little Free Library because of her love for reading and her need to share that love.
She said she grew up reading, like her father, and wanted everyone to experience what she did, which was exploring different lands without leaving her home.
The library can be found on the corner of Bushe and Evans Street, St Augustine, on Valentina Chic's compound.
Rajkumar Maraj was given permission to use the space last February, as it is owned by her friend Valene Bholasingh, who appreciated the idea and who is also part of Rajkumar Maraj's book club, which is held on the same compound.
"When I threw it out to the book club, I asked Val, and she was all too excited. I didn't even have to convince her, try to twist her arm or anything. She just heard 'books,' and said, 'Yeah, okay.'"
Rajkumar Maraj said at the launch in February, she asked everyone who was invited to bring a book of their choice for the library. Most people brought their favourite, with the idea of giving whoever chooses it the same feelings they had when they first read it.
This Little Free Library follows the example of the non-profit organisation based in Minnesota, with the intention of building communities, inspiring more people to read and expand book access to everyone worldwide. Anyone can donate or take a book of their choice.
Rajkumar Maraj said getting the approval for the library took less time than actually getting the physical library.
"This is something that I always wanted to do, so when the pandemic hit and I couldn't find a book club that I liked, I started one. Then I thought, if I can start this, then I can start my own Little Free Library, and my book club is filled with very encouraging book nerds, so that helped."
With this encouragement, she mentioned her idea to her in-laws during dinner, and got practical support.
"My father-in-law said that it was a great initiative and that he thought it was a great idea to encourage people to read. He then told me that he'd build it (the library), especially because he likes to work with his hands and had all the tools."
Rajkumar Maraj said she was proud to see the outcome of this project. She now has a small library made of steel and plastic and even wheels. She assured that the library can be locked up despite the wheels.
The library can hold between 40 and 100 books. It has two sections, one with two shelves and a plastic covering so people can see what books they want before even opening the library. There is also a compartment at the bottom which holds at least 70 books. It's open to everyone to browse and take or add to.
The Little Free Library is near UWI's St Augustine campus, so Rajkumar Maraj deems it the perfect spot, as students can walk over and get a free book or donate one. She said the responses to the library have been outstanding, especially from the customers of her craft store, Firefly Crafts and Creations.
News of her project has gone international: "I have family and friends in London that say they've been visiting their free library and they're saying how happy they are that there is one in Trinidad now."
Rajkumar Maraj urges everyone to support the free library. Even if they can't donate, they are free to take any book of their choosing. She said she just wants to get more people reading, as she did as a child and continues to do so up to today.