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West Kelowna woman feeds bookworms

Cory Campbell chooses a handful of free books from Carol Jackson
Cory Campbell chooses a handful of free books from Carol Jackson's collection. Jackson has been giving away free books for 13 years from her home at 2120 Tomat Ave. in West Kelowna.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

Cory Campbell and Grace Auyeumg were in awe as they walked through Carol Jackson's garage.

A Craigslist advertisement told them that a West Kelowna woman was giving away books for free, but the selection and quality  of Jackson's inventory was something that neither Campbell or Auyeumg expected.

After walking through the mini warehouse for 10 minutes, both Campbell and Auyeumg struggled to hold all of the books that they wanted to take home.

And if it weren't for Jackson, all of those pages would've been destroyed months, or even years, ago.

Jackson has been giving books of all genres a second chance for over a decade.

Her mission started 13 years ago while she was at a recycling depot.

"A truck pulled up and it was full of books. It tipped its top into this huge metal container—they pressed a button and crunched them," said Jackson.

"I said to the guy, 'That seems like a terrible waste.' He said, 'It happens all day, every day.' That was the beginning of it."

Since then, Jackson said she has given away more than 400,000 books. She has accomplished this by placing a shed at the Kirschner Recycling Depot and requesting that books be put there instead of in the recycling containers.

That shed is usually full every week, and although not every book is in good enough condition to give away, many are saved for the benefit of readers in the Okanagan.

"I tell people that whatever they take away would've been destroyed."

According to Jackson, her garage full of reading material is "one of West Kelowna's best-kept secrets."

But thanks to construction on Boucherie Road, and a detour that takes the wine route traffic right by Jackson's house at 2120 Tomat Ave., that secret is becoming common knowledge.

"It's very exciting for me because people are finding out about me when nobody knew before."

Currently there are a few thousand books up for grabs in Jackson's garage.

And they're available at any time—day or night.

"I have shift workers that come at 2 a.m.; it's always open."

About 20 of those books were being snatched up Tuesday by Ted Cortis: A long-time customer of Jackson's who lives just down the street.

"I've been coming here for nine or 10 years," said Cortis.

"Carol saves me the westerns; I read them for escape."

He pointed to his box filled to the brim with reading material and said, "This should last me a month."

Jackson said she would like to see her adopt-a-book concept mirrored in other communities throughout the country.

For more information on Jackson's project, visit adoptabook.ca.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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