Little Free Libraries was blowing up on twitter the other morning. Like any good blogger, I followed the trend, albeit hesitantly. I thought to myself, Oh good gahwd, what are the lefties up to? Why do you believe it’s the lefties and aren’t you a lefty, what would your friends say? Well, because only lefties could find the faults with and complain about Little Free Libraries. It’s probably that they are only in “well off” neighborhoods or have uncurated collections. And yes, I am on the left side of things, but I’m not a silly goose and I think my friends would agree. Even the more conservative ones. They may think I’m destined for hell, but at least I’m not a silly goose.
It turns out I was right, about everything. I clicked Little Free Libraries and was mystically whisked away to a land* of buzzkills. “They are only in affluent neighborhoods where there is no shortage of books,” and “they are just random piles of books,” some people with presumably nasally voices and a penchant for 1950’s British Comedy said. There were others that basically said the same thing. Then, I found patient zero. A blog post from a librarian in cahoots with another librarian.
They had more arguments that seemed to get stuck on the words, “free” and “library.” That a Little Free Library isn’t “free” and costs at least $130, if not just south of $1000 – for the true narcissistic philanthropist – to build. In fact, the author of the post said she spent $600 on her own Little Free Library, so she could conduct her study. As for “library,” well, libraries offer many services and have more books. Which is actually where the word free should come into play, but it was well spent on the dollar amount of the construction price. Perhaps if we called Little Free Libraries, Little Non-Taxpayer Funded, Subsidized, or Affiliated with the Government In Any Way and Therefore Non-Curated Pile of Random Books, it would clear up most of the argument. Put them in “less well-to-do” communities and book deserts and we’re done.
I’ve seen the Little Free Libraries near me thrive. Just because it’s in a good neighborhood doesn’t mean people have money to buy books or have the energy and schedules that facilitate trips to the two libraries that are within three kilometers. People of the community rally and continually trade books back and forth. One’s used Dan Brown is another’s Margaret Atwood.
Let’s take a page from The Politicians Hand Book for Arguing Good: A Table Flippers Guide to Appearing to Win Any Argument By Having The Whoops and Chortles of Your Lemming Followers Drown Out Your Opponent – I picked it up at my local Little Free Library. “If one isn’t in favor of Little Free Libraries, then that person wants people to simply throw away old, unwanted books. Mountains of outdated and ancient** texts will appear at landfills. As these books break down, the pulp and ink will strangle sea turtles. (Allows for gasping and bleats of fear.) And if they don’t want you to throw them away, I don’t know, maybe they want you to burn them, like Nazi’s. (Give’s time for cheering to subside.)”
**From the eighties.