After the Canterbury earthquake of September 4th, I heard about a wonderful initiative called Gap Filler. They were looking for creative ideas to bring a bit of life back to spaces created by demolished buildings in Christchurch.
A year or so earlier a friend living in London had sent me a newspaper clipping in the mail showing a public telephone box that had been converted into a book exchange. It fired my imagination.
I got in touch with Coralie Winn, Co Founder of Gap Filler, with an idea for a book exchange.
We got together and made a plan. Coralie’s initial idea for a site once held a wonderful cafe, Simply Catering, and this lead to the idea to use a catering fridge as a receptacle for the books - being large, with shelves, and water proof.
We were all set to launch at the start of March 2011 to coincide with NZ Book Month, but the February 22nd earthquake struck. Given the circumstances we, and the rest of the city, found ourselves in, we postponed.
A couple of months ago, Coralie and I regrouped. Coralie found a new site - that which once held the Herbal Dispensary and a picture framing gallery - on the corner of Kilmore and Barbadoes Streets. Three corners of this intersection have lost buildings.
Coralie and Ryan, of Gap Filler, were keen to provide a theme for this Book Exchange, and so the THINK DIFFERENTLY theme was born. Our world has been turned upside down in Christchurch, and I think we’re all thinking differently about life now.
[Artist’s impression of the site, by GapFiller]
By asking people to bring along a book to share that inspired them to think differently themselves, we thought perhaps it could help others think differently too.
The project launched on an unseasonably sunny Sunday afternoon on 17th July. It was a superb day and well over 100 people turned up - including a few familiar and welcome faces from the library world, a few politician, lots of Gap Filler regulars, Tweeps, local residents, families and passers by.
I was flat out for several hours registering books and explaining how the Book Exchange works. We had queues both at the deposit desk, and the fridge itself. Once I registered books I asked people to shelve them and to make sure they select a few books to take away!
It was tremendous and touching to see how excited people were about the project. Some people turned up with a carefully chosen book, a note inside explaining how it made them THINK DIFFERENTLY; others bought box loads.
We had very rough classification system: Fantasy, General Fiction, Non Fiction and Kids. Our classifications were marked out by gravel filled receptacles you’d usually find in a fridge - milk bottles and screw top jars.
It was great to have the support of many Bookcrossing folk who sent books in to the project from around the country and within the Christchurch area. Some had rallied around their workmates to fill boxes of books to send us.
Big thanks to Jennifer, a local Bookcrosser, who turned up with a bag of books and helped out with much needed shelving!
I’m extremely happy with how the day went, and it has been so satisfying to be a part of something positive in the community; even more so now that I’m leaving town.
The fridge will be in situ until sometime in October, open 24.7 - a community book exchange to nourish the soul, and hopefully help us all to think a little bit differently.
Russell Brown mentions the book fridge about 9 mins into this interview.
The fridge is still going strong and it looks like other areas in Christchurch are keen to have their own local book exchange. According to the Gap Filler Facebook page there maybe one set up soon in Woolston.
The book fridge will feature in a documentary “When a City Falls”, produced by Gerard Smyth & Alice Shannon of Frank Films - here’s the trailor.
Help us fundraise for the Gap Filler Pallet Pavilion / April 2013
Beatties Book Blog Review
Radiating promise and possibility - Scoop / Bronwyn Hayward 25.03.13
World Stories - International Reporters / 08.03.13
Playing favourites with Coralie and Ryan / Saturday Mornings, Radio NZ 28.7.12
Christchurch: Shattered city reinvents heart and soul in NZ Herald / Brett Atkinson 23.02.12
Quake - a year on, a city without a heart in NZ Herald / Mike Dickison 20.02.12
NZ on Screen: the Christchurch collection / Hard News 15.02.12
Q&A with Ryan Reynolds / Stuff 25.01.12
What to do in Christchurch: your post quake guide / Lonely Planet 10.01.12
Gapfiller was granted a Civic Trust Award / 16.11.11
Pass books on to promote literacy / The Timaru Herald 14.09.11
A bodice ripper without the bodice / Stuff 08.09.11
Gap Filler scheme a success in Christchurch in Listener / Hamish Keith 13.08.11
Gap Filler scheme a success in Christchurch / Listener 11.08.11
Editorial: Another challenge / The Press 26.07.11
Fridge a magnet for book-lovers / Sunday Star Times 24.07.11
Loved books get an outing / The Press 18.07.11
Gap Filler - urban renewal in Christchurch / Heritage Hill Museum & Historic Garden 23.02.12
Art / Canta 22.02.12
Playing the Violet Femmes and Meeting PJ / Amanda Palmer 29.01.12
Small Community Feel in the Big City: the Gap Filler Book Fridge in Pickled Think / Amanda Fitzwater 28.01.12
Why I should go for a walk more often in Typewriters and Tinfoil / 23.01.12
All shook down / Robyn Gallagher 29.12.11
Think Differently in Colouring a Corner / Alison Bourke 04.09.11
The Think Differently Book Exchange / Timezoneblog 30.08.11
Local Lyrics / Ruth’s Reflecctions 17.08.11
True flowers by dYLAN kEMP / Catalyst 10.08.11
Books that give you the chills? in Overkill / Vanda Symon 09.08.11
Fridge Book Exchange on Kilmore Street / Christchurch Daily Photo 29.07.11
Christchurch residents turn fridge into a library / 0800 Repair 25.07.11
A fridge full of books / Perceptive Travel 25.07.11
Being brave and books in a fridge / Quake stories 24.07.11
Buzzing with Books / Ruth’s Reflections 17.07.11
- Slideshow of photos (by Steve and Sarah)
- Slideshow of photos (by Christchurch City Libraries)
- Photos from Get Local
- Photos from CHCH EQ photos
- Gap Filler website
- Gap Filler #7 Book Exchange
- Gap Filler on Facebook
- TEDxEQCHCH - Coralie Winn
- Gap Filler #7 Facebook event listing
- Gap Filler book shelf on Bookcrossing
- Gap Filler topic on Christchurch Kete