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Government Cracks Down on Little Free Libraries

Government Cracks Down on Little Free Libraries

Thank goodness the government is here to save us from… little libraries?

Naturally, the government has to ruin everything, including Little Free Libraries.

You may have seen one of these little bird house turned mini-libraries in your neighborhood. They’re a lovely idea. Simple, no fuss, and quite fun. Donate a book, borrow a book. Nothing to sign, no due date, no late fees, just common courtesy.

Conor Freidersdorf of The Atlantic explored the ridiculous trend of “shutting down” unregulated community book sharing.

In Kansas, residents were told to remove the library at peril of fine:

The Leawood City Council said it had received a couple of complaints about Spencer Collins’ Little Free Library. They dubbed it an “illegal detached structure” and told the Collins’ they would face a fine if they did not remove the Little Free Library from their yard by June 19.

Evidently, Los Angeles and Shreveport, Louisiana are hotbeds of illicit literary lending activity.

Michael Schaub of the Los Angeles Times reported:

In Los Angeles, Peter Cook, who acts under the name Peter Mackenzie, and his wife, writer Lili Flanders, were told by a city investigator that their curbside library was an obstruction. They were given a week to remove it, or else face fines from the city. This came after an anonymous note from “a neighbor who hates you and your kids” was left on their library, ordering them to “Take it down or the city will.”

The couple is declining to remove or relocate the library, with Cook telling the Times that he’ll refuse to obey “the blinded Cyclops of L.A. city — wildly swinging its cudgel to destroy something that has made the city and this neighborhood a better place.”

A spokesman for City Councilman Paul Koretz said there’s a chance the library could remain if the owners got a permit, which could be paid for by city arts funds.

Paid for by the city arts fund? Why does sharing a book with your neighbor required city funding? Oh yes, because government.

Meanwhile, purveyors of one Shreveport based Little Free Library have told their local government to “sod off.”

It’s a similar situation to the one in Shreveport, where the city sent a cease and desist letter to the owners of a Little Free Library. Ricky and Teresa Edgerton were told they could file an appeal to let the library remain, but it would cost $500.

Residents of the Louisiana city were not amused. An artist named Kathryn Usher constructed a makeshift lending library outside her home, and told The (Shreveport) Times, “I did it in solidarity with Ricky. I’m basically telling the [Metropolitan Planning Commission] to go sod off.” Another Shreveport resident, Chris Redford, did the same thing, saying, “I just put my books out there to show that I support the Little Free Libraries in every community and what they stand for.”

It’s enough to make a girl want to throw ALL the books in the harbor in protest. But I like books and that might ruin them.

Professor Jacobson has the better idea here — a protest donation:

[Prof. Jacobson donates Mark Levin's Plunder and Deceit to Ithaca (NY) Little Library]

[Prof. Jacobson donates Mark Levin’s Plunder and Deceit to Ithaca (NY) Little Library]

Long live the unregulated Little Free Library!

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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to the full extent allowed by law.



I’m surprised my mail box hasn’t been condemned.

What if the leftists found out that the Little Library had a copy of “Heather has Two Mommies” and “Rules for Radicals”.

‘splodey heads.

    jayjerome66 in reply to ZurichMike. | September 16, 2015 at 8:58 am

    I think you have that flip-flopped Z-Mike…

    Wouldn’t it be righties with ‘splody heads at those titles?

      Anonamom in reply to jayjerome66. | September 16, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Umm, I believe he is referring to their being terribly conflicted.

      Righties believe in the first amendment, and don’t object to these books in private libraries and stores, where people can choose to read them or not. They object to these books being pushed on children by public schools, i.e. the government, in order to indoctrinate them in a radical ideology.

Put it on wheels. It is now not a structure, but a vehicle.

    Yeah, but if you leave it on the sidewalk or easement, you’ll be ticketed for illegal parking, or something else. I’m sure there are enough ordinances out there.

      The Friendly Grizzly in reply to MAB. | September 18, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      Some states and/or municipalities are so a$$-hole-y about things that they require current license tabs on cars parked on private property, even those not within sightline of the street.

Local Regulation 451… and the kindling point of protest.

legacyrepublican | September 16, 2015 at 8:15 am

Book’em Dano! [ sorry, couldn’t resit ]

Any government agency that attempts to shut these “structures” down has just certified that they are over funded and in need of a budget reduction.

I’m with local government. These United Lethargists are out of control.

NC Mountain Girl | September 16, 2015 at 8:46 am

I suspect this is a combination of a few neighbors who have overly rigid ideas as to what contributes to the ambiance of their neighborhood and government officials who quiver every time a passive aggressive jerk threatens to sue.

    Yeah, to me the part in the article that described the nasty note left by one complainer said a lot… the mindset of those who would use the heavy hand of government to address their petty personal issues is really scary. There is a segment of our population that literally yearns to be under fascist control. It’s like they get an auto-erotic kick out of the jack-boot of government on their throat. Pathetic little people really.

    You’re letting government off the hook.

    It’s an out of control government and their enablers that are the problem.

      NC Mountain Girl in reply to Barry. | September 16, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      No, I am not. I am merely pointing out that often these over reach cases begin not with the government agency itself but with complaints by citizens with narrow, personal agendas who refuse to take no for an answer. Setting public policy via the threat of law suits is a major problem these days.

      While government officials definitely need the backbone to say no to bullies, that isn’t likely to happen soon in many areas absent legal reform. Having to defend a single nuisance lawsuit can devastate the annual budget of a small governmental unit. That is why we have so many rules that defy common sense.

      jayjerome66 in reply to Barry. | September 16, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      Far be it for me to disagree with you Barry (you’ll be a wealthy guy soon when all those five-cent fines start adding up, and I might need a loan) but the Free Libraries in L.A. seems to be in violation of an active city ordinance street blocking law.

      It’s not out of control government or enablers, it’s an ordinance that needs fixing, by enacting an exception for Free Libraries.

      The blocking ordinance itself is necessary, for less desirable but well-intentioned edifices. A Free Street Porta-Potty Toilet for instance, may be helpful for pedestrians with weak bladders, but not in the overall public interest.

      We have a Free Library in my LA neighborhood. It’s not the one in the news, but has been there two years. I’ve donated books now and again. Book topics and subjects available for borrow have been diverse: S.F., Cook Books, Detective Fiction, Bee Keeping, ‘Chick Fiction,’ also music CDs. You can’t tell from the titles if the donators are Liberal or Conservative. So far, no political propaganda, no Bibles and no Pornography (I don’t know if the proprietors of the Free Library cull books from the box.

      I get good feelings whenever I pass the book box, daily on my dog walks. But the book box is on route to a renowned neighborhood public High School, and disappointedly the students, generally with mobile headphones jammed into their ears, are oblivious to the books. The neighborhood dogs on lease show way more interest 🙂

        My neighbor directly across the street built a very nice looking one 2 or 3 years ago; he’s a talented carpenter. I work from home and so I sit working and looking out the window with it in my view, and it’s amazing how many people use it on a regular basis. I often see people chatting by it. It’s a nice addition to the neighborhood in my opinion.

        Of course you disagree you statist hack. Anything the state does is good. We must all bend over for our state masters, they know best.

          jayjerome66 in reply to Barry. | September 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm

          Barry, what’s your problem?
          How’d you jump from a discussion of mostly innocuous health and safety ordinance regulations to your statist hack accusation?
          The opposite of statist is anachist.
          But I wouldn’t insult you for wanting less government and call you a hack anachist.

          I don’t want more government or less government, I want the right size government to do what needs to be done in a complex industrial country like ours. We probably have differences of opinion on what is necessary for government to do – but BIG government isn’t the problem; INEFFICIENT government is the problem.

          Chill out dude.
          (Did I get the nickle for lying thing wrong? Was that someone else who formulated that fine?)

          Barry in reply to Barry. | September 16, 2015 at 7:16 pm

          “I don’t want more government or less government…”

          Yes you do, you are always for the bigger gov solution.

          Simple enough, I’ve been here (LI) for a long time and know your left wing BS for what it is. You’re a big gov all the time every time left wing Marxist. Big gov is always inefficient. Any gov is inefficient. Small gov has the advantage of being inefficient on a small scale and less chance of getting in the way of freedom.

          Go vote for Bernie or something.

          INEFFICIENT government and BIG government are two very different problems. But make no mistake, they are both HUGE problems. Big government just can’t help itself… it has to keep on getting bigger and bigger. And as it gets bigger is just HAS to meddle in more and more places where it doesn’t belong. In the act of getting bigger it consumes more and more resources which by definition results in greater and greater loss of liberty for the citizens. THAT is the problem with big government.

        The Friendly Grizzly in reply to jayjerome66. | September 18, 2015 at 1:40 pm

        “The neighborhood dogs on lease show way more interest…” If a dog is on lease, do you turn them in every 3 years? Do they check the paw pads to assess mileage? Do mutts have a lower residual?

        /I had to…

Uh oh, was there a bible in the little free library?

MouseTheLuckyDog | September 16, 2015 at 11:40 am

Library. What library? All I see is a bird house for birds that like to read.

Remember when the Cuban government cracked down of free libraries and sentencing some involved to multi-year jail terms? The American Library Associated sided with the Castro book burners over librarians daring to operate without a license.

God forbid we should have a free exchange of ideas (in print) outside a government approved facility.

Can we tax this??? Nope.

Ban it!

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to healthguyfsu. | September 18, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    It is interesting that you bring up the taxation issue. I am willing to bet that if one of those free library enclosures had a little Lucite-covered slot on the side with a county “amusement device” permit in it, nothing would be said. In the eyes of government, things that are bad become good when licensed, taxed, or covered by a permit.

These libraries are potentially a serious threat that must be addressed.

While I don’t have any studies to support this, I have seen enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that reading can potentially lead to actual thinking, and thinking citizens are potential dangers to politicans’ job security.

So, libraries are out. And don’t forget to set your DVR for the next episode of “I Am Cait”.

Government is just a word for the things we choose to do together.

The things we choose to do ourselves? Those are now called “crimes”.

It’s worth noting that it’s only some governments that do this.

Here in Indianapolis, a big blue island in the heart of a red state, the city government is actually funding something tantamount to these “little free libraries” in the downtown area—only they’re serving as public art objects, too, with a book collection curated by the local public library.

(And there are some of the regular little variety, too, though they tend to be some distance from downtown.)