Thursday I was just watering guinea pigs when my friend K. “There were only four Boas on the doorstep,’ she cried, and in an Ockje Tellegen tone demanded that my little library be removed because I had no permission to do so. I laughed at them so hard, but now they want a lawyer.”
The K. mini-library, like many other open-air libraries, has become a meeting place for the entire neighborhood. When libraries closed at the start of the pandemic (in other countries they were considered essential and stayed open, but no matter what) they became a social hub. You can catch your breath and grumble about the world as well as share reading tips. The box turned the street into a living room with a clinker brick rug and lanterns as reading lights.
But now they came with four men to ring the bell and wail for a pass, for such a closet apparently posed a fire hazard.
“There is something in it,” I said. “Books eaten from drafts are more flammable than park benches, hedges, waste paper containers, and fireworks warehouses. Small bookshops have also caused bushfires in Australia and Siberia.”
K said. “It’s a shame. And why were there four of them anyway? Like there isn’t enough to deal with all this proliferation of house parties and demonstrations. You might think there’s no shortage of enforcement.” We hung up and K shared her displeasure online, which was immediately picked up. A few hours later, she received a letter from the mayor.
“She’s stalking her, it’s a little team library!” Cheer up ki.
I said “great”. “But still, somehow I understand those oops.”
“Why ?!” K shouted.
“Well, it must be very hard to maintain in these times, when everyone has a short fuse. I can imagine that after every day they say shit to drugged tourists and angry citizens and people who don’t clean their dog poo, thought ah, a bookcase, finally Something that doesn’t have a big mouth. Just ask for a permit, write a report, it’s over. Much less trouble. It’s just a shame on them that they rang the doorbell of your choice.”
“I really don’t understand how you can defend these guys,” K sighed.
“Because of all that reading, it makes you sympathetic,” I said. “Through your small library, you promote understanding for those who oppose small libraries.”
“Okay,” K muttered. Finally, “We’ll take that into the bargain. My little library can cost quite a bit.”
Ellen Dekowitz Here he writes a column for the exchange with Marcel van Rosmalen.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of December 14, 2021
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