The Allure of Little Libraries

As I bike around Bloomington, and as Sue and I take urban hikes in Minneapolis and St. Paul and other towns, we often come across Little Libraries.

I always take a look at what is offered and usually take a picture or two. If the books are not interesting, the library itself often is.

I have played with the idea of having one of my own. Putting it at the end of the driveway and filling it with the discarded and abandoned books that I usually sell back to Half-Price Books or just donate to thrift stores.

I like the idea of books finding new homes. Especially the books that I have abandoned. It is not the book’s fault after all that I cannot fit into it at the time.

And so every now and then I think, maybe it is time to have a Little Library of my own.

But then I think of an article I once read by a writer who received one as a gift. He said he found it to be a burden. So much time did he spend worrying over its contents, being bothered by the quality of books others “donated” to it.

I know my book obsessive ways. And I know that I am the kind of book-person who places tremendous importance on the meaning of what someone has read.  When I go to a house I always gravitate towards the books, if they have books. Books can tell more about the people who live there than a remodeled kitchen or bathroom ever could.

And so I worry that if I did get one, I would spend an inordinate amount of time and energy curating it. Thinking about the best ratio of books to have and what categories: some picture books for kids, some poetry books, history, a western or two, and some Oprah books for the masses….

Would I worry about what my neighbors will think of me when they see the kinds of books I read?

And what is the proper thing to do if some well-meaning stranger leaves a “Christian Fiction” book or a romance novel there? Would it be ethical to take it out? To toss it in a bag to donate to a thrift store? Or to slip it into some other Little Library?

And what if no one ever came and took any of the books I put out? Could I handle the rejection?

And so for now, I content myself with taking pictures and thinking about them.

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