The Coast News Group
Mike McDonald of Carlsbad starts a community library out of an old rowboat at his home at 466 Chestnut Ave. Photo by Steve Puterski
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No card, no problem at newest community library

CARLSBAD — Ahoy book readers. There is a new “library” in town redefining the traditional concept for finding the classics.

Mike McDonald, 51, of Carlsbad came up with an idea for a community library, which he constructed out of an old rowboat at his home on 466 Chestnut Ave.

The concept is simple — no library card or fines and residents can pick up and return books and DVDs at their leisure. And like that, the Starboard Community Library was born and so was McDonald’s version of paying it forward.

“When I was a kid, we really didn’t have libraries,” McDonald said. “I heard about the tiny library movement. There is a lot of confusion about what it is. It’s been really positive and if it works out, great.”

His road to starting a community library began with a deep look inside himself.

The former staffing manager retired about one year ago and has been vocal in city politics, voicing his concerns and criticisms when he feels strongly about an issue.

However, he noticed he was complaining about work being done to improve the city, even if he didn’t agree with the method, but didn’t have any skin in the game.

“I tend to complain about city government,” McDonald explained. “I said, ‘What are you doing beside throwing stones?’ So I said, why don’t you do something?”

His revelation struck when he saw an old canoe on the street.

He cut it apart, added a couple of shelves and thus, the community library was born.

McDonald then found the rowboat, spent $300 to fix it up and opened the Starboard Community Library about three weeks ago.  He added a light, which is on at all hours, to act as a bit of a lighthouse directing residents to the library.

Donna Marcy, a friend of McDonald’s, said it’s a great idea and hopefully picks up steam.

“He was teased,” she said. “They said, ‘Oh, humidity, oh, rain.’ I said, ‘It’s a boat, it will just float away.’ It’s community outreach. It’s important to be involved in the community you live in.”

Mother Nature, meanwhile, also comes into the equation, but McDonald said he will pull the books and DVDs inside should a big storm arrive.

More importantly, he wants people to pick up books and DVDs as they wish, but also has received donated books to stock the shelves. And because of limited space, he said if the collection grows large enough, he will rotate the media.

If all things go according to plan, McDonald also plans to add board games.

“How many board games do we have in our closet that we haven’t played in 15 years?”

And if the idea picks up even more momentum, McDonald said it would great if other residents made their own libraries.

As for the selection of books and DVDs, he said the initial focus is on the classics.

He found a list of 100 books “everyone should read” from Business Insider and took to it. McDonald also applied the same philosophy toward the movies.

“Children’s books are important and the classics we all should have read,” he explained.

However, parents are urged to visit the library with their children to screen for what they consider appropriate material.

Regardless, McDonald’s ultimate goals are to provide another avenue to kids and adults to expand their reading.

“The idea is, it’s not mine, it’s ours,” he added. “People can take whatever they want and hopefully return the same things and maybe add some things.”