Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Little Free Libraries: A Public Good... Right?

The first Little Free Library, built by  Todd Bol

These days, if you look around the neighborhoods in most cities, you're bound to run across something odd: what looks like an over-sized mailbox full of books with a sign telling you something like "take one, leave one." These so-called "Little Free Libraries" are popping up everywhere, and from their humble roots they are becoming something of a movement. Where did these cute little boxes come from?

The history, as it turns out, is an interesting one. In 2009, a man named Todd Bol built the first LFL in the shape of a small school house. His original intent had been to honor his mother's memory (she loved books and reading), but the idea quickly spread throughout the country and eventually the world. These days LFLs have their own website where interested library lovers can purchase/register their own version, and there are now over 15,000 of them worldwide.

Despite their seemingly innocuous appearance, Little Free Libraries were not without their share of controversy. In a few spots around the country, LFLs have led to citations and "Cease and Desist" letters due to laws that (we assume) simply weren't written with community book-donation in mind. Nowadays, these laws seem to be changing to allow LFLs their spot in the community network, so they appear to be here to stay.

What do you think? Are these unregulated boxes a community resource, or an unecessary eyesore? Would you love to see a box on every corner, or are our roles as library support staff an important part of the book-sharing process? Feel free to leave a comment below if you're passionate about this phenomenon!

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