Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Livre-service coming back to the borough at the start of summer

Examples of NDG-based Livre-service boxes in May 2015. Photos: Isaac Olson
By Isaac Olson
The borough's  self-service book-exchange boxes have vanished from borough streets, but director Stéphane Plante says they will be back by the beginning of summer.

Started under the guiding hand of then borough mayor Lionel Perez in December 2012, Côte des Nieges—NDG installed a dozen retrofitted newspaper-dispensers on busy neighbourhood streets throughout the borough. The boxes once belonged to the Montreal Gazette.

Calling it “Livre-service” in French, it is a free resident-to-resident book exchange program that allows citizens to take or leave a book at will. There’s no charge, no registration and no obligations. When these boxes were installed, it was stated that the success of these boxes would be determined by citizen participation.

Former city councillor Sharon Leslie went before the borough council on April 3 to say she brought a "whole bunch of books" down to the box in front of the Co-op la maison verte on Sherbrooke St. over the weekend only discover that it had disappeared. Noting it was a popular service and that people were distressed to learn the boxes had gone missing, Leslie asked if the borough would be replacing the boxes and how long it would take.

Borough mayor Russell Copeman said the borough made two missteps in pulling the boxes for refurbishing. The public should have been better informed of the plan, he said, and he suggested the borough could have, instead, not taken all the boxes away at the same time. Copeman suggested the borough put up signs letting people know that the boxes will be back soon.

"I think we could have done better," said Copeman.

"We were very surprised by the strong reaction," Plante admitted. "We are very pleased by that reaction because it means that they are used."

He said the plan is to refurbish the boxes that are damaged and buy new ones where needed. Notifications did go out via the borough's social media, he said, but, when prompted by the mayor, he agreed that more notification was needed.

“Hopefully by the beginning of summer they will be back because some of them were badly damaged,” Plante said. "But we need at least two months."

Sharon Leslie asks the borough council about Livre-service during
the April 3 borough council meeting. Photo: Screenshot of video archive.

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