Over the past few years, the Little Free Library has become popular. You can tell because birdhouse-looking buildings are popping up at the edge of people’s front yards across the country.
Here’s how it works. The homeowner who is hosting the library leaves some books in it. When a neighbor takes a book, he replaces it with a book of his own.
It works out remarkably well for everyone involved. People are reading more and there is no system of fines or due dates as there is at a public library. Some have even used Little Free Library to teach others how to read.
But some people don’t like nice things and those people are often in local government. The latest town to crack down on the concept is Chesapeake, Virginia. Back in May, the city told a local woman, Cami Myers, who was hosting one of these libraries, that they were illegal. The reason was that the city did not explicitly authorize them in its zoning code.
From the Virginian-Pilot:
Myers, who works at the Indian River library branch, jumped on the do-it-yourself project for her home, asking her neighbors to help build the structure to hold books.
What Myers didn’t know at the time was city code does not expressly allow for Little Free Libraries, making them forbidden .
“I don’t see a major problem with (the libraries), it’s just we don’t have a provision for it,” Zoning Administrator John King said.
While Chesapeake indicated that it was open to allowing the libraries, other cities have not. Shreveport, Louisiana was cracking down on them last year until the city council finally decided to allow them. Los Angeles and Dallas have also gone after these little libraries. It should be noted that most of these major cities have taxpayer-funded public libraries. Could it be that they’re acting to protect their library monopolies?
There a scene in “The Patriot” where the South Carolina Assembly is debating whether or not to raise the tax necessary to formally join the Revolutionary War against Great Britain. The character portrayed by Mel Gibson, who was opposed to war, warned of being ruled by “3,000 tyrants one mile away.”
Those “3,000 tyrants one mile away” have arrived and they’re called the local zoning commission. These people are the reason why PJ Media’s Tom Knighton says, “The stupid is strong with many local governments, and they embrace it with a passion usually reserved for the cover of a romance novel.” They are why Florida grandmas can be evicted from tree houses they have lived in for 25 years and restaurants can be banned from serving booze.
If we want to get back to a free society, we have to end this notion that you have to get government permission to do anything. One step in that direction is to abolish excessive zoning laws and move to a system where everything is legal unless it is explicitly prohibited.