A long-term Tom Price resident has set up the town’s first street library to encourage local people to connect over reading.

The box-shaped Tom Price Street Library, located outside a property on Oleander Street, opened last week and offers anyone in the community the chance to borrow or take one of its books for free, at any time of day.

Library organiser Melissa Howe, who has lived in town for nine years, said she had wanted to set up the free community book exchange in Tom Price since hearing about the concept several years ago.

“I just loved the concept of how it brings the community together, how people are outside having a chat and reading books, so that’s where the idea came from,” she said.

“It took me ages to figure out who I could ask to help build it, but eventually I thought I’d start it this year.” The structure was built by a friend of Ms Howe’s and she has collected its book supply over the past few months from residents who were selling them off.

The street library stocks about 20 books for children and adults.

Street libraries are part of a worldwide network of small stand-alone book exchanges, usually situated in front yards and visible from the street, which allow people to borrow, take or leave books at no cost.

The Tom Price Street Library is believed to be only the third to start up in the Pilbara, after two opened in Roebourne and Dampier last year.

Ms Howe said she had received a lot of positive feedback online about the service.

She said she could especially see a place for the library in Tom Price, where a lot of people were transient workers or tourists who struggled to get to know locals or wanted something new to read while travelling.

“Because the town is so transient, this is a good way for me to meet new people and to help them get connected to the community,” Ms Howe said.

“It fits the easy country lifestyle we have in Tom Price and helps us to connect to workers and tourists when we can.

“New people can find it hard here.”

The street library can be found outside 114 Oleander Street in central Tom Price and can be accessed any time of the day or night.