Portable street library is a success at Banksia railway station

Well read: The portable street library at Banksia railway station is proving to be a hit.

Well read: The portable street library at Banksia railway station is proving to be a hit.

Need a good read on the train?

A street library that was installed at Banksia railway station last year, with the idea of taking, sharing or giving a book, is turning out to be quite a popular mini-reading corner.

The movable book library is there for anyone who passes by. All books have been donated by the community with the majority give by Bayside Library, Rockdale branch.

There are cook books, children's books, literature and magazines. It changes every day with new donations coming and going.

The library is an initiative of the Banksia Book Club and one of it's members, Catriona. With the help of Steve Kalinski, the well-known station attendant and with clearance from NSW Transport, the mobile book library is now situated in the underground passage next to the Opal machine.

There have also been some positive outcomes since it arrived on the platform. Apart from being photographed by curious Chinese tourists on a regular basis, the library was a surprising saviour to a child whose grandmother had suffered a stroke on the platform. The ambulance was called and while she was waiting and becoming more upset, Mr Kalinski offered the little girl some books to read. When the ambulance arrived and heard of the calming use of books, they praised the idea.

The library was purchased from Street Library Australia, a non-profit organisation based at Erskineville.

It is portable and can be moved to the station office when not being used. It was painted orange for a interesting reason. People may know the orange colour of Penguin paperbacks, which was founded in the 1930s when Allen Lane could not find a decent book to read at his train station shop in England. The orange colour is also used on NSW train stations as its identifying colour. The street library is now referred to as 'The Big Orange Box'.

"With so many international visitors, students and pensioners passing through Banksia, the free library has become a symbol of Australian generosity," Catriona said. "Many people say they haven't heard of the concept and can't believe books can just be taken for nothing. Even pensioners who find getting to a library difficult are enjoying the stress-free pleasure of finding and taking a book."

More book libraries are planned and there may be one coming to a nearby pub.