Free Wee Library Comes To Sandymount

Pictured, from left: Gerard Loughran, Geraldine Timlin and Ruth Cooper.

Pictured, from left: Gerard Loughran, Geraldine Timlin and Ruth Cooper.

The rainy morning of October 8th saw Sandymount Hotel become the recipient of a Free Wee Library, a free community book-sharing project for adults and children. The library was introduced as part of the hotel’s ongoing Green Project, and is to be made available to residents of the area and hotel guests.

The Free Wee Library Project was set up in May 2013 in Buncrana, Co. Donegal by artist Geraldine Timlin. The concept was directly inspired by an already successful book scheme that had made considerable inroads in the United States since its inception in 2010.

Reaction to the scheme has been positive thus far, and as a result, there are now 10 outdoor library boxes in Donegal, with another one in Co Clare, and now Sandymount Hotel has the distinction of being the first hotel in Dublin to have its own library.

An honesty policy is what polices the central aim of the libraries, with residents working on a simple “take-a-book, leave-a-book, donate-a-book” basis, with a specific emphasis on promoting literacy, exercise and recycling. Books are generously donated by members of the public from their own collections.

The project has come a long way since it was first featured as part of the Feel Good Fortnight initiative run by Insight Inishowen in Donegal. Timlin sat down with NewsFour to discuss the history and ethos of the scheme.

“We were asking people and artists in the community to come up with ideas that would be of benefit to the community, and I had the idea of coming up with the Library,” said Timlin. “So I set up five of them. Two were in a local riverside park, two by the beach and one in a children’s play park. It’s inclusive to all members of the community, from toddlers to pensioners, and tourists as well.”

Ruth Cooper, who is Green Policy Coordinator for Sandymount Hotel, was positive about the impact that the introduction would have on the community and on hotel guests. It was Ruth who acted as liaison between the hotel and Timlin initially.

“I thought it would be an excellent opportunity for the hotel to become more involved with the community,” Cooper said. “I think it’s a great idea, and our guests will also love it. It provides a chance for future guests to read a book that someone else has enjoyed!”

The Free Wee Library Project also functions as something of a social enterprise, as the boxes are built by skilled craftspeople currently out of work due to the economic downturn. It is hoped that involvement with this venture may help them with future employment.

The success of the initiative was recently qualified by the fact that President Michael D. Higgins has been presented with a Free Wee Library to be sited at Áras an Uachtaráin, if any further proof was needed that Sandymount Hotel is currently in good company!

Timlin spoke of the presentation made to President Higgins. “The President came to see us in Buncrana, and came to a community centre called The Exchange, which used to be an old dole office. I was part of that group, and we gave him a library.”

Information on the project can be found online at

By Craig Kinsella