Thursday, May 30, 2013

Return of the Library of Justice!

The Library of Justice is back! We've refilled it with a few books and comics to get started again. A HUGE thanks to all our neighbors and friends for their support over the last few weeks. Both for donating and for some much needed morale boosting, after our two previous incidents. We're so fortunate to have a concerned and helpful community supporting the library--not to mention all the help we've received from other LFLs and the main Little Free Library organization!

Re-opened with a few new rules...

1. One Book Per Visit, Please
For the time being we're asking folks to take one book or comic at a time. We're hoping to relax that at some point, but for now we'd like to have enough for everyone who'd like a one. 

2. Always a Gift, Never for Sale
This is really for those who either don't know how little free libraries work--or intend to sell any books they borrow--we shouldn't have to say this, but...

Feel free to read, share, and return at your convenience, but please don't take them with the intention of reselling them. The Library of Justice is for the greater benefit of everyone in our community who'd like a book to read. Know that book stores in the area will not purchase a book that's been stamped by a little free library. We have our own particular stamp so folks know from where it came. Area shops have agreed to honor that commitment to keep these books in the LFL community.

We've put a temporary sign to help remind borrowers while we wait for our official one to come from the Little Free Library organization. 

Have a Book to Return?
For those that have a book to bring back to the library, now is a good time to do so, as we restock the library's inventory. :)

Now, if it would just stop raining, we could do a little upkeep....

Friday, May 10, 2013

An (unexpected) update...

We've been closed for all of 48 hours and already things have been busy around here! First, we had a flurry of emails and messages, as well as neighbors stopping by--to talk about what happened the other day. I can't even put into words how amazing the response as been. Several folks have offered to donate more books and help restore trust. I can't go further with out saying a heartfelt "thank you" to you guys.

Then this afternoon, we received a call from Mr. Todd Bol, one of the founders of the Little Free Library organization who's offered to help clarify how the LFL concept works with some "Always a Gift, Never for Sale" signage and book stamps. He was not only generous but intensely motivated to help "get this fixed". He said something that really resonated, that he believed in the "genius of the community". Mr. Bol might have his way of defining that, but to me, it just means that the simple act of sharing serves to bind us together as a community. That's a pretty powerful idea.

Finally, we had some visitors at the Library today. Rather, the couple that had scooped up our books on Tuesday evening returned, and this time, they were putting books into the Library. We'd seen them, but didn't get outside in time to talk to them before they departed. None of the books are the same ones that were removed, but the point being they appeared to try to be making amends. 
We'd put a sign in the Library notifying borrowers that it was closed for the time being, and still they added books to it, which of course makes me feel like we were wrong to close it. But we weren't sure at the time if we'd just be throwing even more books away at that point. So in a day full of heartwarming returns, this one was most welcome. 

At this time, the Library is still closed, but we hope to reopen soon. We're hopeful that that our patrons (sharers and borrowers) will return with us. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Trouble at the Library of Justice

Saturday, May 4th was Free Comic Book Day and we couldn't have had more fun with friends and neighbors celebrating comics. We'd put about two dozen or so graphic novels out in the library for any passerbys, as well as some single issues in the secret shelf. The intent was to keep the celebration going through the weekend. Here's a pic of what was in there:

There's actually about six or seven books (X-men Apocalypse and Avengers Civil War) behind Trinity there, which I'd faced-front. There were a few more single comics under the Superman Family Adventures inserted in the comic shelf.

Holy hunger for literacy Batman!
I'd checked and all the books were still there on Monday morning--I'd even posted on Facebook that day that the books would get a change-over that evening. But we came home to a surprise that night:

Sacked by the Legion of Doom, perhaps? Disenfranchised Wonder Twins??
Nearly all the big graphic novels were gone! At first I was overjoyed that so many books had been borrowed. I imagined droves of new comic readers in our neighborhood, clamoring for comics!

And yet....neither of us could shake this mounting feeling that something didn't sit right. After all, we'd never had that many books vanish all at once before. At most, we see about a handful of books in and out of the library during the week (we're still relatively new in the neighborhood).

Time to restock...
So I'd gone back out Monday night with a fresh load of books to replenish our stock, choosing carefully to get a wide variety of titles and genres. We tend to throw in a few popular ones among those that not everyone may have heard of:

Then, something VERY strange. Emily had stumbled upon some folks we didn't recognize who were literally emptying the library by the armload. They'd pulled up in their car and took everything we had. She'd tried to find out from them if they actually intended reading them all--and that's when she saw our books in their front seat...with an open laptop perched atop the pile. When she inquired if they intended to read the book, they were short on answers. She tried to let them know this was more of a take-a-book/leave-a-book library. Her intention was to let them decide what was right. Their decision was to drive off with all the books in the library.

What's really going on here?
While we're not dummies, we really do try to give people the benefit of the doubt. But at some point you've got to believe what you've seen with your own eyes. We're wondering now, what's the deal with the laptop? It dawned on us that they could be using the Little Free Library Google Map listing to find all the LFLs in the area and just grab tons of books. Are they planning on scalping the books? Who knows. Most of the book stores in area won't take stamped books (ours usually are) but there are lots of other ways to sell them.

Now, there's nothing technically wrong with taking the books--I mean, c'mon that's why the library exists! And while it's not theft--at least in the strict "letter of the law" sense--it's still devastating. To empty the library (and we don't know for sure if it was the same people) TWO days in a row???

Curators, not just caretakers
Not exactly what we'd call the "spirit of community". So now our stock is down nearly 50 some-odd books. A stock that took us months to cultivate. I personally curated the graphic novels, spending a lot of time (and not exactly zero amount of money) to make sure we had titles that people might be interested in--trying to account for not just personal tastes, but the ages, and even the genders of kiddos in the neighborhood.

Again, we totally intended these books to be shared--even en mass since we just had a huge event for that purpose. But a few taking that many books with little (read: no) interest in reading them seems disingenuous. And our response probably shouldn't be to keep filling so that only a few can keep coming back to take everything. It's just really disheartening and a bummer.

Library on hiatus...
We want the library to be something that neighbors can use freely and openly, but also hope that borrowers will be sensible about the quantity they take at one time. More the point--we'd intended the library to be something in which we could share with our neighbors as we get to know them. We're grateful for the friendships and conversation it has already sparked!

It's heartbreaking to say this, but the Library of Justice is taking a break while we get our superhero mojo back and fine-tune things. We'll not be putting new books inside. There's currently a sign posted to indicate it's closed and not to be used. We hope this is temporary and that our friends in the neighborhood understand. Batman has his batcave and Superman his fortress of solitude to plan their comebacks. We hope this means there's a Library of Justice 2.0 in our future.

Thank you for your support everyone. We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Free Comic Book Day wrap up!

We had a STUPENDOUS turn out for Free Comic Book Day--more than 40 people showed to come grab some free comics! We also had plenty of games and fun activities to win prizes. Due to some spotty weather, we moved the festivities indoors. Hopefully next year we'll get some sunshine! Here's a photo highlight of all our super-hero patrons (sorry, one or two is a bit blurry):

Some sidewalk chalk to let folks they've come to the right place...

I was pretty proud of my homemade Free Comic Book Day signage....

Picking out free comics!

These amazing and delicious superhero and Star Wars sugar cookies were made by our friends from Two Smart Cookies!

Batman joins the Avengers for a photo op...

One of the activities included a "create your own superhero" lab...

Here's one of the superhero creations--not sure what the best part is here: the hair? the pants? or the fact that this guy is a MIND TWISTER!

And because Free Comic Book Day was also Star Wars Day (May the Fourth Be With You!) We also had a make-your-own lightsaber workshop!

A few rounds of Captain America's Target Toss....

Thanks again for everyone who came out to the Library of Justice on Free Comic Book Day! It was a blast--we hope to see you again next year!