I’ve operated my little free library for nearly two years now, and during that time I’ve also been a member of two little free library Facebook groups, so I’m in constant communication with little free library stewards from across the globe. While I haven’t personally seen it all, I can say that I’ve seen enough vicariously to know that people can be strange. Yes, they can also be generous and kind, as most of my patrons are, but the strange ones are more humorous to write about.
For some reason, a small, special percentage of the population view these libraries as dumping grounds for the things they don’t want. Here are some things that have been put in these libraries:
- Various articles of clothing. (If the library doubles as a clothing drop place, then okay, but make sure the stuff is clean. But I can’t emphasize this enough: Nobody wants your used underwear.)
- Food items. (If the library doubles as a food pantry, then make sure the food isn’t opened, half-eaten or expired. But it’s very obvious when a little library does NOT double as a food pantry, so please respect that.)
- Books with water damage, smoke damage, or mildew.
- Controversial books such as Mein Kampf or The Anarchist’s Cookbook. (I don’t believe in censorship, but these books require context that is hard to provide in this forum.)
- All manner of creatures, alive or dead. (If you don’t want them in your house, why should anyone else?)
- Items of furniture. (This isn’t Sanford and Sons.)
- Textbooks or encyclopedias from 1984. (Just because you feel guilty getting rid of obsolete books does not mean you should force us to do so for you.)
- Books that are falling apart or that have missing pages.
- Books that your child covered in doodles.
- Books that have been chewed on by anyone or anything.
- Mixed media books that are missing the other media.
- Old ratty magazines.
- Ammunition. (C’mon. Seriously?)
- Hate speech.
- Pamphlets, flyers or coupons.
- Junk mail.
- Chewing gum.
- Things that any sane person would normally flush down a toilet.
- Books with such a limited audience that no one will probably take them, such as “Embalming: Best Practices”.
Also, remember that these libraries aren’t just for you. They’re for the entire community.
- Please don’t completely empty them of books in one visit.
- Please don’t vandalize them.
- Please don’t take books out for the purposes of resale. (We’re trying to get books into the community for those who can’t afford them or don’t have access to them otherwise. We’re not here for you to sell these things on Amazon. A small portion of library stewards don’t mind this, but for the life of me, I don’t understand why. It constitutes a community theft as far as I’m concerned.)
- Please don’t steal the log book! We like hearing from people! Why would you want our log books? (You’d be amazed how often this happens.)
There are a few odd things that I personally really enjoy getting in the library, and don’t mind leaving for others, but if you’re planning to put these things in another little free library, check with the steward and make sure it’s okay with them first.
- Rubber Duckies.
- TINY, unbroken toys.
- Painted rocks.
- Pretty bookmarks.
I know this post seems a little complain-y, but you’d be amazed at what we stewards encounter. I will say, though, that the vast majority of my library patrons are generous, kind, and thoughtful. They love the library as much as I do, and take good care of it. For the most part, this library has restored my faith in humanity, and it is one of the best projects I have ever undertaken.
Keep reading, y’all.
The ultimate form of recycling: Buy my book, read it, and then donate it to your local public library or your neighborhood little free library! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5