Sunday, February 01, 2015

Shame on You, City of Shreveport

Little Free Libraries have been around for a while, and everywhere one of them pops up, the locals seem to love the idea and enthusiastically take to it.  (Well, I suppose I should limit the previous sentence a bit by saying that I have never personally heard anything negative about where any of the little library boxes are placed.  Such criticism is not something that would earn many national headlines, so it's easily possible that Shreveport is not the first city to start shutting down Little Free Libraries.)

As shown in the picture I clipped from the LFL site, the free libraries resemble overgrown birdhouses placed close to the ground.  Homeowners often place them near the street with a sign on them saying something to the effect of "leave a book, take a book."  And that's what people happily do...over and over and over again.

But now the city of Shreveport is spending city resources to shut the things down if the free libraries are placed in areas of the city not specifically zoned for commercial establishments.  Remember now, no money changes hands in a Little Free Library; everything is based upon the honor system.  If anything, the generous homeowners who do this for their neighbors take a loss on the whole project because the little structures cost at least $300 if purchased in kit format.  

According to this Shreveport Times article:
Alan Clarke, the MPC's zoning administrator, said the book swaps are, by definition, libraries equivalent to Shreve Memorial Library, and under city law a library can only exist in a commercially-zoned area.
Shreveporter Teresa Edgerton learned this after her husband opened a certified letter from the zoning division ordering them to stop operating their Little Free Library, a decorative structure containing books, outside of their Wilkinson Street home.
There are at least two other registered Little Free Libraries in Shreveport and a number of unofficial lending boxes around the city, Turner said.
Clarke said the zoning division stands by its decision. "If someone tells us where one is then we will do the same thing that we did on Wilkinson," he said. "(We) only went there because it bothered someone."
So there you have it.  All it takes to shut down something positive is the combination of one petty paper-pusher with a city title and one busybody who is offended that a neighbor might attract the wrong kind of people to the neighborhood.

Shame, shame, shame on you two.


  1. Ricky and Teresa are friends of mine and this incident has created quite an uproar. I remember how pleased they were when Ricky finished it, and Teresa stocked it with books. Actually, the publicity has been so plentiful and supportive that things may work out after all. Hopefully!

    1. That's great news, Jenclair. I was hoping that would be the end result of all of this because the whole problem was caused by only two with too much time on his/her hands and the other being a little too anxious on the job. I figured that the overwhleming feeling would be anti-city if only people heard about such a petty decision. Thanks for letting me know.

  2. I hope as Jenclair mentions that the publicity over the issue gets the rules changed. It's simply ridiculous. It's like the food and ag department in my state shutting down seed libraries sponsored at a number of public libraries. They are being treated as though they were seed companies making a profit. There has been so much outcry about it the law is in the process of being changed to exempt free seed exchanges. Lawmakers are completely clueless sometimes.

    1. Politicians and bureaucrats are not known for their common sense. I'm counting on Shreveport to ultimately get this one right because it is just so obvious that the two fools involved messed up big time.