Today, I sent this open letter to the chair of the Little Free Libraries® Board of Directors to let them know that I was officially withdrawing myself and my book exchange from the organization. I left the members-only Facebook stewards group and unfollowed them on Twitter. I removed the sign from my book exchange and kluged something temporary for a re-“brand” until I can get around to making something more permanent. Maybe I’ll try and use one of them fancy 3D printers the folks at the real library have been talking up!
In short, I have come to the conclusion that affiliation with a non-profit organization lead by an individual who identifies as an entrepreneur is completely unnecessary for sharing books with your neighbours. The benefits of membership (as they say) are shaky at best – vapid mail-out content on how to promote yourself and the LFL® brand, where to find cheap books and getting one’s self placed on a map are not exactly worthy of paying dues. Nothing this organization offers is something that can’t be done with an internet connection and the will of a passionate group of loosely organized people*. For the reasons I outlined in the letter, I don’t think that supporting this organization is a constructive use of my energy.
As I’ve said before, I am most certainly not opposed to neighbours sharing books with each other. It’s a lovely idea and I encourage those who want to run and unbranded exchange to do so. But libraries aren’t free, nor are they little, nor are they something to be trademarked that comes with terms and conditions. It’s a box of books for the taking, people. As simple as that.
*cases in point: here are a couple of creations made entirely independently of LFL® by individuals – it’s worth pointing out that LFL® outsources their web development.