I haven’t been following the Little Free Libraries movement, because like the OWS’s so-called “People’s Library” they’re not really libraries in the sense librarians mean, and unlike the “People’s Library” no one is saying anything pretentious about them. People put them up, neighbors exchange books, everyone’s happy.
Except apparently not everyone is happy. If there something library-related that you might think would be scandal free, it would be little free libraries. But no. From the frightening place known as suburban Milwaukee, bad things are afoot with little free libraries!
First, there’s the town that flat-out banned little free libraries, someplace called Whitefish Bay. That would be the Whitefish Bay in Milwaukee County, not the one in Door County, so don’t get them confused. According to its Wikipedia entry, notable people from Whitefish Bay include probably nobody you would have heard of, but then again it’s small.
And being small, the government seems to have a lot of control over tiny things like whether people are allowed to build little free libraries in their front yards. Town policy forbids people from having any structure in their front yards, including mailboxes.
I thought the whole point of moving to the suburbs is that you got to have a yard and be the king or queen of your tiny suburban castle, but I guess not. They’re even going to make a local church remove one that had been built to resemble a little church, and if that’s not cute as a button I don’t know what is.
But it gets crazier! In Bayside, WI there was a little free library book burning! A mob of zealots armed with pitchforks and torches descended upon one of the little free libraries and lit that baby up.
No, I’m kidding. Some teenage girls burned some pages from a book “to keep warm,” or possibly to light up the marijuana they had with them. With a population under 5,000 and not even being big enough to support a high school, I guess there weren’t more interesting things for teenagers to do than smoke pot and burn books.
And that’s not all. In Oak Creek, WI, a resident says his little free library “is being used to spread religious-based fear.” Instead of putting books in or taking them out, “people are putting religious leaflets inside the home for books, ‘warning of impending doom and a one-way ticket to hell.’” Scary stuff.
If that’s not enough, it justifies some of the fears that the Whitefish Bay folks had about the little free libraries becoming instruments of propaganda by surly, underworld elements Whitefish Bay. Those poor Whitefish Bay residents who want a little free library will never get one now, what with all the book burning and scurrilous pamphlet-leaving.
Since it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow, I’ll just say that I’m thankful I don’t have to fear the scourges of book-burning and religious pamphlets. And for the turkey.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.