Is Someone ‘Stealing’ Books From JP’s Little Free Libraries??

You know those Little Free Libraries around Jamaica Plain, like the one at the corner of South and Bardwell streets near Curtis Hall? Well, a JP resident wrote to Jamaica Plain News wondering if someone is taking books from a local Little Free Library to sell them.

A Little Free Library near Rossmore and Stedman streets.

Maria Gonzalez said she found a note on the door of a Little Free Library “in the 200’s of Chestnut Avenue.” The note said a man who doesn’t live in the area is driving to the Little Free Library “almost every day and mostly takes all the books. We think he is a used-books seller. The Little Free Library is now almost always empty. What should we do?”

Gonzalez says the note writer left space for suggestions about how to combat the issue of one person taking too many books from a Little Free Library. She added that the Little Free Library on Pond Street is also usually empty.

For what it’s worth, Jamaica Plain News has noticed that Little Free Libraries on Greenough Avenue, Revere Street and the Arborway have had books on their shelves in recent weeks.

But seriously, how do you stop someone from taking too many books from a Little Free Library? Would a sign saying “Please take just one book” suffice?

  • SallyQ

    What is your problem, crybaby? If they’re breaking the law, call the cops. If they’re not breaking the law, get a life & MYOB.

    • Monster

      That’s not very nice.

    • paul

      bitter old witch arent you

    • Jim L-L

      Aren’t publicly accessible free libraries everyone’s or anyone’s business? Amazing that you would stoop to trolling people commenting on this relatively minor problem. Are you sympathetic to the thief? The one who ruins a good thing for all? Your comment is rude and misses the point of these little free libraries. Civility transcends legality.

      • SallyQ

        Dear Jim,
        1). Your arguement holds no water. There is no shortage of “publicly accessible free libraries” in and around Boston. In fact, last time I looked, BPS still has a few branches right here in JP. Not one person is being deprived of easily accessible books for free. Not one.
        2). Pulling a Trumpism by implying that I am in any way sympathetic to a thief, no, an alleged thief, won’t work, dearie.
        3). The concept of a Little Library is an honorable one, but I think the reality is that it’s just another empty self serving Feel Good gesture by white people to assuage their guilt for their million dollar JP condo, the $4/dozen free-range eggs from kale fed chickens they buy at Whole Foods, and the poorly disciplined offspring they inflict upon this already overcrowded world.
        4). What is that thing on your head?

    • Robyn Ochs

      Just because something is not illegal does not make it OK. If there are a dozen cookies on a table at a party and I take all twelve and put them on my plate, that’s not illegal, bit’s also not right, as it leaves no cookies for anyone else.

      Free libraries depend upon the honor system. They are intended for all of us, and I am thankful to people who step up to help ensure that they are used as intended. Thank you, Maria (and others).

    • MMRosenthal

      Sally Q thank you for reminding us of the wide range of perspectives living in JP. Grateful that Jamaica Plain is big enough to respect many voices. And even more grateful, you aren’t my next door neighbor.

  • Monster

    Well, with JP’s free library-to-resident ratio approaching 1:1, we may have a simple case of market saturation.

  • Sage Holben

    I have found that stamps (similar to library stamps) are too ‘passive’ in appearance. I’ve had no problem since l began using marker on top and side edges, ‘Little Free Library’ ‘T share, not sell’. Especially on books in great condition. Also, l mark inside front cover and or title page. Sounds a bit overdone to some, but books come back and are not taken in bulk. Then again, as Toddler says, ‘if it’s free, is it really stealing?’

  • Sarah B

    Marking tops and edges etc. is a great idea. And, the definition of “stealing” as “to appropriate to oneself beyond one’s proper share” probably applies here…

  • Marty

    yes, this is a good idea. but I hate that we have to deface books so that a greedy person doesn’t take advantage. My experience has been that, lately, there are books in the free libraries, but they are not very compelling: political or psychological books that are at least 20 years old, National Geographic that are just as old, pamphlets, and stuff like that.

  • ccbard

    Does anyone know who builds and installs the little library structures, and who pays for, or maintains Them? Individuals, or groups?

    • Robyn Ochs

      Libraries are installed by individuals on their own property or in a place where they have the owner’s permission. There is a nonprofit organization — Little Free Library — where you can register your library into a database, and they also sell structures; however, you don’t have to register a library and you can build your own. We have a “Free Library” and a “Little Little Free Library” outside our home (lower down, for small children) that is not registered. Both of ours are constructed out of old doll houses.

  • Joni Lohr
  • JonFrum

    That would be Greenough ave, not street.

  • Charlie

    How about putting a “Little Free Library” sticker on the front of each book? One that can’t be removed without ruining the cover…

  • Linda Drury McBride

    First, thank you to everyone who has a free library and/or who contributes books. We have a little free library on our property, (the one in the photo). I love tending it; and I often visit Boomerangs (Thursday is half-price book day) and the local public libraries to get books to fill it. Nothing in my library is more than a buck or two. People take books, and sometimes people leave books. Book dealers who would deal in these free library books would make very little on them; just check the prices of used books on Amazon. What doesn’t get taken in my library, I take to others, or back to Boomerang’s, to the library, or to another free library. I love books, and say “Keep the Books Circulating”. I am happy there are still people that want to have them.

  • silverccl

    In our community room, we have a fair number of books for people to borrow. There is a small sign saying, ‘Take a book, Leave a book.’ Simple & covers the concept.

  • Susie Davis

    I suggest a trapcam with infrared for a few days. This is a “crime against decency” in our community. Should he be identified We, community, might consider using the Maori tribe’s communal confrontation of the offender to explain the impact of such behavior upon the community, a form of public shaming. It is nonviolent and effective to this day. If this perpetrator is a bookseller or local business person, we should not tolerate such offense and boycott the business.
    Doing nothing, looking the other way, does not serve the public good. There are reasonable responses by reasonable people that can be pursued, but it must stop.
    Resident JP

    • Monster

      So JP! Spot on, incredible ear for local dialect. The capitalized “we” is the cherry on top.