Stormy Seas for Little Free Libraries

1littlelibI spotted the Little Free Library in our new neighborhood long before I started using it. Now I’m wondering why I waited so long. The first time I opened the door to peruse the book selections, I was pleasantly surprised to see titles by some of my favorite authors, such as Crichton and Clancy. The Little Free Library has also introduced me to books I probably wouldn’t otherwise have read. I’m always eager to see which new reads my neighbors have dropped off.

But not everyone is a fan of the miniature libraries, apparently. According to a recent article in the LA Times, “Little Free Libraries on the wrong side of the law“, the city threatened to remove one LFL after receiving an anonymous letter of complaint. The city of Shreveport, Louisiana is also cracking down on the curbside book exchanges for violating zoning laws. (Although one enlightened city councilman has proposed an exemption specifically for LFLs).

Other than the Crabby Appleton who penned the complaint letter, I think most people would agree that a Little Free Library is a positive addition to any neighborhood. But the LFLs may need a little help from the rest of us. For example, we can use social media to let city officials know that voters won’t think kindly of anyone who harasses, fines, or otherwise threatens the continued existence of the little libraries.

Little Free Libraries are worth saving, don’t you think? Do you have one in your neighborhood, and have you used it?

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17 thoughts on “Stormy Seas for Little Free Libraries

  1. Oh fer corn’s sake. Now I’ve heard it all. What the hell is the PROBLEM with them? What stupid law it is breaking? This is part of the problem with government at all levels…one moron complains and everyone else has to pay. (Sorry…I know we’re supposed to be non-political here but this one rots my socks.
    Geez…

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  2. There are some of those all around Alaska. A lot of little towns have them in their town stores. My uncle owned the general store in our town and the back wall in his place had several book shelves full of paperback and hard back books that people traded back and forth at will. Also there are a lot of little trapper cabins that are left unlocked throughout the wilderness that will have a little book exchange shelf in them similar to the little libraries. Those of course are not generally accessible except to serious woodsmen and trappers, cuz they are waaaaay off the beaten track. The government public use cabins I have heard sometimes have them but they get cleaned out somewhat often so it is hit and miss with them.

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    • And I can’t imagine that many folks in Alaska go around complaining about zoning infractions, so Lil’ Libraries would be fine there!

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  3. We don’t have a Little Free Library in our neighborhood but I have heard of them. We have more informal book exchanges, like a couple of baskets at the local diner and bookshelves in our community club house. I doubt our homeowners rules would permit these little houses on our lawns when we’re not even allowed to put signs up.

    There also another service where you can tag your book donations and leave them out “in the wild” for people to take home. http://www.bookcrossing.com/

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    • I’ve heard of Bookcrossings, but I think I’d be hesitant to leave books anywhere they might not be expected. I like having the steady location of the little curbside book exchanges, but I can imagine they wouldn’t work in some communities.

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      • Doctor’s offices were good places to leave books when I was tagging them. Or think of sites like a food court in a mall, on a restaurant table with your bill. I’d put a little sign in the book saying “Take Me, I’m Free.”

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  4. Hulloo, this is Berhold. Now Basil has let me have my own email and I can talk to you all without using his accounts, which, for legal liability may be fore the better on all accounts.

    Leprehcauns, and those with whom we interract, have throughout the ages relied upon voluntary libraries as a great repository and exchange of ideas and information. Scattered willie nillie, hither and yon, all about our world beneath the world, in our caverns are a great many little books repositories. Ours, unlike the ones you describe, do have librarians though. Tiny pyskie folk (you may call them pixies) live within the shelves and while they do not check out books in the sense of modern public libraries, they do keep track of who did what. And they have quite long memories indeed. As a matter of fact, one time I was looking for a picture our grandda had drawn of a type of flying machine many years ago. I went to the little library in the tunnels under Belfast and wouldn’t you know the cute little blue skinned pyskie there knew exactly what I was talking about.

    “Oh I know precisely what you’re referring to Master Berthold,” said she. “It had been here, but I’m afraid that has been checked out for quite some time. An older gentlemen, bald on top, longish beard…erm…Lenny. That’s right Master Lenny borrowed it to make a copy for some project he was on. He was a nice old man, a bit of a starry eyed dreamer thought if you ask me. I told him that if men were meant to fly, God would’ve given them wings like mine and made them a proper colour of blue like the sky, no offense to you and your kind intended.”

    In time I was able to track it down and sure enough, Lenny had indeed never checked it back in. It got mixed up with his other papers and now is sitting in the British Museum with a couple of others I am pretty sure are grandda’s work.

    Here’s the one he borrowed from grandda.

    So there you have it. Little Libraries Work.

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  5. This is in no way related to the post, and is not directed at the author of this post specifically but to whoever manages the website and mailing list:

    When I saw the post that informed me you guys were moving to a new site, I did not pay it much attention to it because I thought all those on the mailing would still have blog posts delivered the their inbox regardless of the site moving/changing. I don’t come on the website. I wait for the post to land in my inbox (which is usually around 12 hours later than originally posted). When I realized days had gone by without a single Kill Zone email I figured something was wrong…

    I will enter my email address and sign up with this site again. But I do advise that you direct the daily posts to everyone on your *mailing lists* who are probably wondering why they aren’t getting any Kill Zone emails–because apparently this has not been done.

    Not everyone signs directly onto websites. Busy days don’t allow that. Some of us prefer/have to wait until we crash in bed for the day to pick up our phones/tablets and catch up on blog post via mail. Now I have a number of your posts to catch up on!

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  6. I definitely think there should be an exception made for these Little Free Libraries. There will always be some crabby people who’ll object to anything or everything. Let an exemption be made and put through quickly. I hope the idea goes viral. In the city where we used to live, there was a free section in the large main library, but in the neighborhoods it’s even better, perhaps for those who, for some reason, can’t make it to the regular library. I’m for anything that encourages reading.

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  7. I definitely think there should be an exemption made for Little Free Libraries as soon as possible. I’m for anything that encourages reading. I hope this opinion goes viral.

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  8. Kathryn, thanks for the post. I’m a little slow in responding. Yesterday was a busy day.

    Just wanted you to know that your post made a difference. I agree with Suzanne, I’m for anything that encourages reading. I’m a family physician in solo practice, so I can make my own decisions without a committee meeting. I’ve already picked out a space in my office waiting room to put up a LFL shelf. My office staff love the idea.

    Thanks for the post. Hope the LFL’s spread across the country.

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