In 2013, my family and I built a Little Free Library (LFL) and installed it in front of our house. For two years, it was a beautiful thing. People took books, people left books – just like the concept requires.
We bought books at the The Bookseller, a used book store and coffee shop inside the Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave. Over the past two years, friends donated books and we put some of our own in the structure. We make a point to offer Spanish language books as well as books in English.
However, in the past month, our Little Free Library has been completely cleaned out three times.
I saw a photo on Facebook (used as the main photo in this blog) of another LFL on the Riverwalk allegedly being emptied by a couple with a garbage bag. This weekend, I saw two more empty Little Free Libraries and another with a sign asking people not to take *all* the books.
I contacted the organization, asking for thoughts on this or strategies to prevent it, but did not hear back. The group did, however, respond to this blog with a Tweet.
Of course, Little Free Libraries are free, but c’mon. Emptying out the entire thing is just jerky. Is our Little Free Library being emptied in order for the books to be sold? If people really need the money, it’s almost justifiable, but I have sold enough used books in my life to know that the mostly-paperback ones I am putting in my library are worth very little to nothing at a book shop.
I started writing in black Sharpie on the front of the LFL books "From A Little Free Library, No Resale." I kinda hate marring the cover of a book, but so far, this seems to be working.
Any insights or thoughts on this? I have read posts about this happening in Chicago and Portland as well. Is this a sign of the times or is this another example why we can’t have nice things?
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.