City’s artist-in-residence turns Maple Ridge community members into published authors

Series of stories written by Ms. Hsiao’s Grade 1-2 students. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)Series of stories written by Ms. Hsiao’s Grade 1-2 students. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)
Salmon spawning survey by the Alouette River Management Society (ARMS), with handwoven book cloth by Frank Reiter. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)Salmon spawning survey by the Alouette River Management Society (ARMS), with handwoven book cloth by Frank Reiter. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)
Collective book of recipes inspired by Fairy Tales, with cover illustration by Cheryl Lim. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)Collective book of recipes inspired by Fairy Tales, with cover illustration by Cheryl Lim. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)
The Ultimate Cat by Naomi P Lane. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)The Ultimate Cat by Naomi P Lane. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)
The Ordinary Life of Nadia Lewis by Naomi P Lane. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)The Ordinary Life of Nadia Lewis by Naomi P Lane. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)
All entries from the poetry, video and photo Earth Day contest. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)All entries from the poetry, video and photo Earth Day contest. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)
Field Notes (one) by other artist in residence Aaron Moran. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)Field Notes (one) by other artist in residence Aaron Moran. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)
The Dream by Heidi LeRossignol. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)The Dream by Heidi LeRossignol. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)
Serenity by Bonnie Douglas. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)Serenity by Bonnie Douglas. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)
“Vintage” copies of The 701. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)“Vintage” copies of The 701. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)
Bird Droppings by Jaimen Shires. (Natali Leduc/Special to The News)

A library for the people, of the people, and by the people is coming soon in Maple Ridge through an initiative by the city’s artist-in-residence.

Natali Leduc, who is doing her artist residency with the City of Maple Ridge, came up with the idea for a little library like the community libraries around towns, except all the books would be written by people who live or work in Maple Ridge. She calls this, “The Little Library of What?”

“I like that this name tells half the story. I am hoping that it intrigues people enough for them to want to know more,” said Leduc.

“The idea is to create a tangible platform for residents to share stories, recipes, math equations, graphs, poems, drawings, photographs, thoughts, etc., and to help them create books. It is a great opportunity for people who have always wanted to write a book, but who don’t know where to start,” said Leduc.

This an ongoing project, but Leduc’s little library already has produced 47 different books, a few more in the making and a total of 76 contributors so far.

There are different ways to participate with a very flexible structure which can be adapted to each person, and each idea, explained Leduc.

“Some people might want to write, but not illustrate their books. Some want to learn how to bind books, some want to help editing, or typing… Sometimes I pair people to work together. In the end, some books become a collaboration with other members of the community,” she said.

Two of these books are collective books with multiple contributors for each. The project participants have made four copies of each book, while for the collective books, she made an extra copy for each contributor.

Leduc started with a pilot with two classes at Eric Langton School in Feb. 2020. The work stopped abruptly due to the pandemic but Mrs. Rankin’s students from grade 2 and 3, eventually finished their books.

“They were so proud when they realized they were published authors! It was a very moving experience to see them go through the whole process of writing, illustrating, proofreading, and binding their books,” said Leduc.

Later in the Fall, Ms. Hsiao from Alexander Robinson Elementary enrolled her grade 1 & 2 class. Leduc visited with the class outdoors once and then communicated with the teacher. They made some lovely books with wonderful drawings and Cheryl Lim typed up their books.

Beside these students, there were participants from all ages from children to seniors.

There are books containing short stories, some with poems, a couple of pre-published books contributed to the library, a collective book of recipes inspired by fairy tales, a collection of all entries from this year’s Earth day, a book based on an actual survey done by ARMS (Alouette River Management Society) on Millionaire Creek.

“I also felt very lucky that a local weaver, Frank Reiter, offered to weave some book cloth. I ended up using it to make the cover for this book,” Leduc added.

She also said that everybody is invited to participate and it’s free. There are also no limitations on age, ability or language. Anyone who is interested could register before Oct. 24 by sending an e-mail to Leduc: natalile@telus.net or send a message on Facebook: Facebook.com/FernCrescent.

“Most participants had never written a book before. One participant in particular was very hesitant. She felt so shy to have other people read her book. She even considered publishing it under a pseudonym. During the process, this turned around completely, and, in the end, she wanted to make extra copies for her family. In this case, it was not just about the project itself. It also changed the perspective this person had of herself, of her family and vice-versa,” Leduc said.

There will be two little libraries coming up, a stationary one and a mobile one. The stationary one will be placed near the Fern Crescent Artist Residence at 23740 Fern Crescent, behind the Lapidary Club and between the Hot Rocks and Davidson Pool/Cabin Cross Park. The mobile one will travel to schools, retirement homes, festivals and special events in Maple Ridge.

The community should expect the libraries to appear during the Spring of 2022, Leduc said.

“I am really looking forward to seeing the reaction of the public when we install the two little libraries,” she said.

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