Grace Vosen, Contributor
When I moved here from Sauk City, I left behind a small volunteer project. A few months into last year’s lockdown, I decided to become the unofficial steward of a Little Free Library two blocks from my apartment.
Several factors contributed to this. I wanted to help others, yes, but I was also walking by the place at least twice a day and feeling off ended by the poorly curated selection. In all the places I’ve lived, uncared-for Little Free Libraries get so stuffed full that they either won’t open or won’t close. Instead of sharing books that others might want, many of my fellow citizens use the Libraries to get rid of what no one wants.
Tragedy of the commons, indeed.
My main duty as unofficial steward was reshuffling. I set upright books that were shoved in at odd angles; I grouped genres together. I also monitored the Library so that when someone got into a fit of cleaning and dropped off a houseful of junky books, I’d know within a day or two. While I never threw books away, I did give them to thrift stores when one genre became too dominant. I also added my fair share to the Library’s single shelf.
The books inside were mostly what you’d expect. But this Little Free Library has the distinction of standing next to a building dedicated to the exchange of ideas. Occasionally, some real gems would show up. Someone else must have been watching the place too, because those were never around for long.
I figure my work went completely unnoticed. But I do wonder if anyone quarantined at home some time during the past year saw me meddling in the Library. I also wonder if anyone will take up the mantle and care for this piece of the community now that I’ve left. Who will spend their free time on the Free Library?