Anarcho-Libraries vs the State

Saturday, August 29, 2015
Posted in category Voluntaryist

Little Free Libraries is a great story of ordinary folks who decided that voluntarily sharing books is a great way to meet people and enrich communities. Some months go, The Atlantic described how local governments were threatening residents with citations for constructing Little Free Library structures, which are communal bookshelves where residents are encouraged to “take a book, leave a book.” The Atlantic referred to this as “the danger of being neighborly without a permit.”

Free and voluntary exchange between cooperating human beings is becoming a crime in a country where governments have come to dominate every aspect of our lives. In Shreveport, Louisiana, antiquated zoning laws on the books were used to prohibit these communal exchanges from occurring.

“The free flow of information — the exchange of information — is nothing that anybody wants to inhibit,” Sweeney said “The catch here is that the current ordinance says, basically, that it doesn’t allow this as permissible use in a residential area. And then the other thing is that it’s an accessory structure, and we have a rule on our books that says no accessory structures can be in the front yards.”

Little Free Library has become a global movement in a very short time period. The organization says there are over 30,000 around the world. People are circumventing the official channels and government gatekeepers to build, buy, install or donate money for Little Free Libraries, and each one is wonderfully distinct from all the rest.


The Detroit Little Library culture here is huge and still growing. Free Little Libraries are all over the city, and they are quickly spreading to the suburbs. The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press even took to donating news racks that will be converted to Free Little Libraries. Our Detroit cycling group – Detroit Bikes – held a special cycling ride through the city this summer wherein we all carried books and made multiple stops to drop them off at targeted Free Little Libraries that needed some new stock. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed loading up my bicycle with all of my extra copies of books on political philosophy, history, Austrian Economics, etc., and I especially enjoyed dropping off a copy of Rothbard’s Power and Market.

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