Community opens book shed to share the gift of reading

The New Greens Book Shed team with John Mole (third from left).

The New Greens Book Shed team with John Mole (third from left). - Credit: Monir Ali

A free local community library offering residents the chance to share their favourite reads with their neighbours has been unveiled.

The New Greens Book Shed (NGBS) allows people to take books, read them, and then return and exchange them.

Open 24/7 at Christchurch in High Oaks, it aims to offer the benefit of free books within a short distance for those who can’t easily travel to a library or book shop.

John Mole officially opens the New Greens Book Shed.

John Mole officially opens the New Greens Book Shed. - Credit: Monir Ali

The idea of setting up a book exchange in the area has been floating around on local  Facebook pages for some time, but the idea snowballed when a handful of  residents in the New Greens and Batchwood areas came together to develop the concept further.  

The NGBS was officially opened by local poet and resident of St Albans John Mole.  

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The project, which is wholly run by community volunteers, was funded by county councillor Roma Mills, McColl’s mini-store on High Oaks and The Adda Club.

The New Green Book Shed.

The New Green Book Shed. - Credit: Monir Ali

The New Greens Book Shed is supported by Christchurch, who gave permission for it to be located on church grounds.

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Rev Dr Jeremy Follett said: “I think it's a great project, and it is amazing to see our residents come together like this. This endeavour reflects the sprit and ethos of the tight-knit community we are accustomed to in New Greens, and we are proud to have it located at Christchurch."

The New Green Book Shed.

The New Green Book Shed. - Credit: Monir Ali

One of the lead volunteers, Robin Wilding, said: “ We held a book donation day, and our community donated plenty of books, with a promise of many more. It is wonderful to see such a worthy and sustainable cause so well supported by a proactive and cohesive community."  

She has been working alongside a core group of people who have driven the project forward, including Anjali Perin, who decorated the shed and Monir Ali, who organised the purchasing of the shed and oversaw it being erected. 

The New Greens Book Shed.

The New Greens Book Shed. - Credit: Monir Ali

Anjali added: “We have been overwhelmed with the support for the project, and the number of volunteers who have already signed up to help look after the book shed, from the ongoing upkeep to setting up and running the book donation days.

"We also hope to build events around this venture to involve the local community further as we ease out of lockdown and we feel it also forms a small part of us helping support sustainability in St Albans.” 

The book shed is open for all to use, and there will be book donation days on advertised days every month. For more information, or to volunteer visit or email 

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