OTLEY now has a Leeds Little Free Library, beautifully painted and welcoming visitors to Gallows Hill Nature Reserve.

The nature-themed Little Library was funded by Wharfedale Naturalists and Friends of Gallows Hill and was officially opened last week by Mick Bradley, Green councillor for Danefield Ward.

Mick was joined by Gordon Haycock, Secretary of Wharfedale Naturalists, who first had the idea for a library at Gallows Hill and Carole Fenwick, a surface pattern designer, who painted the plants and animals which decorate the library.

“I’ve noticed that people want to be able to identify what they’re seeing here at the nature reserve, so we wanted to have a way of providing nature books to use as a reference,” sais Gordon Haycock.

“Walking with a book inspires people to look more closely at plants and wildlife around them. We also plan to have nature-related fiction books and poems that can be enjoyed on our secluded benches under the trees.

“People can return the books after their walk, take them home and return later, or take them back to a different library – we want it to be really useful.

“It’s lovely to see Carole’s wonderful paintings of specific species you’ll see here at Gallows Hill; such as the comma butterfly, flag iris, wild cherry trees, and a fabulous toad.”

Carole, who lives in Leeds and is better known as Maggie Magoo Designs, said that she loved painting this special library for Otley: “It’s a different style for me, but nature is my inspiration. I have enjoyed walking my dog at Gallows Hill – it’s such a well-used local amenity.

“It was an exciting challenge to paint the animals, I used acrylic paint topped with lots and lots of varnish to protect it. The illustration of the newt and the conker are my particular favourites!”

The Leeds Little Free Library, which are a growing network of book exchanges across the city, celebrate their fourth birthday this month and the library in Otley is number 75.

The not-for-profit project was founded by Carry Franklin, along with joiner Dave Ayres (who builds the libraries) and cartoonist Jacky Fleming. When Carry sadly died two years ago, Dave and Jacky were joined by Jane Clifford and together they have continued with the project, which Carry said was all about “the love of books, art, reading and community,” and Little Libraries are popping up all over the city.

“This a valuable local resource, packed with nature books,” added councillor Mick Bradley.

“I think it will benefit everyone who visits Gallows Hill and it will enhance their experience of this lovely reserve.”

Check out Leeds Little Free Library on Facebook for a map of all the locations around the city.

Facebook: @FriendsofGallowsHill


Facebook: @leedslittlefreelibrary