Urban Whimsy Crackdown: Free Little Libraries Shut Down by Local Governments

Do not let the Taylor Dooses of the world win.
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Since there really isn’t anything else for any of these local governments to worry about (like the homeless, gentrification, or anything), they’ve decided to use their copious free time to go after a very serious city menace.

No, I’m not talking about the living statues. I’m talking about our old friendfree little libraries. You know, those little birdhouse-sized cabinets nailed to power line poles or planted in public fields? The ones full of books that are free for the taking? Yeah. Apparently, someone isn’t down with the idea of a community sharing books with each other.


Citing zoning laws and other random ordinances, the local governments in Los Angeles, Shreveport, LA, and Leawood, KS, have begun to take down the libraries that were placed by members of the community. According to those local governments, they can stay if they obtain proper permits … which undoubtedly involves forking over some cash.


That cash could come from local arts communities—who are tragically underfunded as it is—but requiring people to go through a bureaucratic maze and a pile of red tape before putting up a fun little project like this usually ends up just killing the project.

I can just hear the bureaucrats now. Urban whimsy, ugh. “Not in my town,” they’ll say. “No permission here,” they’ll growl. But something tells me as long as people want a free little library in their area, they’re just going to keep putting them up.

(via io9, image via Flickr/Santa Cruz Public Libraries)

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Image of Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.