01/22/2013 14:31 EST | Updated 03/24/2013 05:12 EDT

Book swap service in CDN-NDG off to rocky start

Putting faith in the goodwill of its citizens, the borough of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce has launched a free book service called ‘Livre-service’ but has been slow to catch on in the program's first weeks.

Inspired by the increasingly popular Little Free Library movement in the United States, the borough has installed eight old newspaper vending machines in different locations with the hope that citizens will drop off their books and pick up new ones.

Borough mayor Lionel Perez admits the service is still little-known but says it will take some time before citizens fully understand how the service works.

“It is based on the honour system,” he told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak on Tuesday.

“We’re asking and counting on the good faith, the willingness, of everybody to contribute and not just to take the books. It’s going to be an ongoing process and we truly believe that with time, people will get into the habit of, when they pick up a book, they’ll drop off a book.”

The service is meant to be complimentary to the borough’s library services and the borough warns that the boxes are not meant as a place to deposit library returns.

Daybreak visited one book drop-off spot at the corner of Monkland Avenue and Marcil Street in NDG and found the large box virtually empty. Twelve books had been left there, including three Stephen King novels and other well-read paperbacks.

Still, Perez said the small community service has already received attention from other areas.

“It’s an interesting and innovative project. We’ve had calls from Quebec City as well as Paris to see exactly how we went about it and how we implemented it,” Perez said.

“The responses have been very encouraging. People are very excited about it,” Perez said.

“I think, with time, people will get more familiar with it.”