Our tiniest library is missing

Where the tiny free library used to be in Jamaica Plain

UPDATE: Return of the Free Tiny Library!

Jessica Atcheson wonders what happened to the JP Free Tiny Library that used to sit on South Street.

The city's smallest library had been there since late 2012, when it showed up while the BPL Jamaica Plain branch across the street was closed for renovations.



    Free tagging: 


    Another tiny library is on

    Another tiny library is on the corner of Chesnut & Paul Gore. It has been there a while, but maybe it was moved from South St? I don't know how long the South St one has been missing. Anyone know if these are the same?

    Thanks. About to go to Stop &

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    Thanks. About to go to Stop & Shop, so I'll report in if it's still there.

    People from JP

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    Do understand that BPL is free right, then again it's JP/ Portlandia. I wonder what type of books they offer. Tofu cook books, raising a chicken in your $600k condo or even how to dress like an idiot.

    So many joyless people in this city

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    Yes, there's an actual library right across the street. Maybe you missed the part in my exhaustively long two-sentence post that the tiny library was started when the real library was closed for repairs.

    Maybe, just maybe, people liked the idea of this quirky little thing and kept it going. God forbid.

    Talk about what you know about

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    Why the negative Nelly post? Did you ever check it out?

    What kinds of books have people donated? Science fiction novels, cookbooks, books about art, magazines, gosh and golly, the kinds of books a person might find in well, a bookstore or library. But with big differences: these are books bought, read and donated by neighbors for the benefit of neighbors. These books are not necessarily popular, are often older (which a bookstore would not sell) and are not subject to the rules and regulations of a library. These books represent a kind of freedom to give and take as a person desires. And they are given and taken and housed in the little bookhouse without 1 tax dollar. Imagine a lending library supported and maintained which is paid for by the good wishes and generosity of residents. Gosh that is something that might - god forbid - exist in some kind of utopian society where each gives and takes according to his labor and need. Downright communist or, god forbid, even Christian!

    Why have it? To understand the reason requires enjoying the infinity of human existence that books reflect. If you don't understand that then stop reading here - and instead find a book that makes you laugh so hard your belly hurts or makes you cry so hard your body shakes. Experience that and you can understand the value of a little book house on a corner.

    So why have it? Because in this little book house are daily surprises. Surprises that come in the form of unplanned and uncontrolled volumes of imagination and wonder expressed as printed words. It is a tiny and pretty safe wildling that is nurtured and maintained by its neighbors. It is a little place where neighbors share with each other via the exchange of books their interests, goals, sometimes even desires. All through little big things called books.

    This little book exchange is open 24 hours a day. A person can arrive back in their neighborhood at midnight and enjoy the pleasure of browsing through the selection as though mining for gems in a deep cave. You might find only rocks or you might find a gem. But that it can be done at any hour lends a pleasure to the local quality of life that can not be duplicated by a library that costs millions to run and necessarily controlled by bureaucracy, rules and regulations.

    So instead of throwing out unnecessary sarcasm build a little bookhouse for you neighborhood. Then - assuming that people in your neighborhood value books and learning - watch it become a focal point of exchange. You might be surprised by how much fun it is to see what books wind up in the little bookhouse in your neighborhood.


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    You've never actually been to JP, have you?

    have you tried getting a library card?

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    It's absolutely insane. They wouldn't accept a rent receipt and a cancelled rent check as proof of residency. All the bills are in my roommate-landlord's name; I get most of my mail at a PO Box.

    I'm white, male, born in the US, speak English fluently. Imagine how hard it would be for someone who isn't all of those things, to get a library card.

    Oh, and I don't eat tofu, I don't have chickens, and, because rent and prices are so insane, I have a small bedroom in someone else's condo that I rent for $900/month, because that's the only way I can afford to live in the only part of Boston I've called home for 7-8 years, where my friends are, etc.

    But please do go on about how we're all hipster douches...

    and if you don't drive or own a car?

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    It doesn't seem to occur to you or BPL that there are people who don't own cars and don't need or have licenses.

    It also doesn't seem to occur that many people don't have leases - they're tenants-at-will. So rent receipts should be enough, right? Except they're not according to the librarians.

    It also doesn't seem to occur to you that MAYBE YOU RENT A ROOM AND NONE OF THE UTILITIES ARE IN YOUR NAME BECAUSE YOU DO NOT OWN THE CONDO/HOUSE. And in order to have a consistent address and not have to deal with asshole postal workers who like to return your bank statements as undeliverable because they think you don't live at your new address (and end up with you locked out of your bank account), you get your mail at a PO box?

    Seriously, the JP post office is now infamous for not delivering / losing people's mail. And they informally require that people's names be on mailboxes. Except there's no such postal regulation. Go look it up - only your street number, and that's only if the number isn't on the building elsewhere.

    What's so wrong about having names put on mail boxes?

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    Names on mail boxes in apartment buildings everywhere are required. If one is uncomfortable with putting his/her full name on the mailbox(es), then they should at least put the first letter of their first name, as well as their surname, on the mailbox. No big deal, and it's a good idea.

    Um ...

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    You can't think of a reason why somebody might be uncomfortable having their name on a publicly accessible mailbox?

    If a mailbox is the locking

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    If a mailbox is the locking type, you can put your name on the inside, so only you and the mailman will know.

    If you had read what I wrote,

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    If you had read what I wrote, or the linked BPL website, you would have seen that:

    1) You don't need a driver's license. A nondriver ID works just as well.
    2) You don't need a utility bill or bank statement. Just any piece of mail. So you can sit right down and mail yourself a letter, and make believe it came from you.

    IMO if someone can't figure out these rules, and how to mail themselves a letter, even asking for help at the library, they probably can't handle checking out and returning library books.

    That's true.

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    That's true.

    Though you don't even need a state-issued nondriver ID to get a BPL card. You just need some form of ID that has your photo and signature. The BPL website gives examples: a health card, credit card, or student ID.

    Part of JP charm

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    If it needs replacement I will gladly contribute a few bucks (and of course books) to the next little book house. If someone with the skills to build one is willing I'd be glad to help. I always enjoy looking at what neighbors have contributed and even occasionally exchanging books. I like the bit of insight that it gives to interests of folks living in JP.

    While its size is small I see the stature of this little book exchange as contributing much to the pleasure of living in JP. Considering that the JP library branch will shut down for 1.5 years possibly starting next year the value of some kind of book exchange in the immediate area will be even greater.

    My building has a free book shelf

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    ..on the front stoop.

    It's killer. People give and take on a regular basis. I love it for getting rid of small useful things that get left in the place.

    The occasional bit of wino shooing I end up doing is a small fee for some charming harmless thing that adds to the local quality of life.

    Free book exchanges

    are all over the city, though most don't have the little free standing structure. I've even seen them in quite a few bars, and not always the ones you'd expect. There used to be one at BK Lounge in Rozzie Square, just as an example, though I'm not sure whether it's still there.

    The one thing I dislike about having a Kindle, is I hardly ever get a chance to stock these places anymore.

    Remember the one in Porter Square Station?

    I thought it was a great idea. Donated to it a couple times back in the 90s; even though I don't necessarily frequent that particular station. It's been gone for a while--did the MBTA require that all free reading be the Metro at some point? Why stop such a cool thing in a train station?

    Registration costs $35 or $75

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    Registration costs $35 or $75 if you want a fancier sign. For $1000, you can get a special edition tiny library!

    Why would I pay someone else to give away books? Oh boy, they add a line to their database. Such value!

    That's ridiculous. The whole

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    That's ridiculous. The whole point of these little libraries is to let people exchange information for free.

    Someone should make a free wiki directory to compete with the paid website.

    Chestnut St. Library Still There

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    I walk by this one daily and it is still there. It has bird carvings out of old tree branches surrounding it, a slate roof and at night there is a lit string of lights all around it. On a more practical note, a plexiglass door was added to protect the books during the recent tough winter. I have three different library cards and I still find surprises here. I am always happy to add to this stash when I am doung one of my semi-regular book shelf culls...

    little free library gone?

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    since the folks who put it up did so anonymously, there's no one to call. I was thinking of calling the BPD to see if someone reported it stolen. It would be nice to know who put it there so we can ask him/her if s/he knows it's missing. I loved that little place! I got some great books, some by authors I would have never read, and donated a ton of books and magazines.