In this article, we critique the phenomenon of Little Free Libraries® (LFL®), the non-profit organization dedicated to sharing books with one’s neighbours. Through our engagement with the discourses, narratives and geographies of the LFL® movement, we argue that the organization represents the corporatization of literary philanthropy, and is an active participant in the civic crowdfunding activities of the non-profit industrial complex. The visible positioning of these book exchanges, particularly on private property in gentrified urban landscapes, offers a materialization of these neoliberal politics at street level. Drawing primarily upon one of the author’s experiences as an LFL® steward, as well as critical discourse and GIS analysis, we offer constructive critiques of the organization and their mission, and suggest that the principles of community-led library practice can be more effectively employed to harness the enthusiasm of these self-described “literacy warriors.”
Quietly, incrementally, I’ve been sharing things I wrote over the last few years – the experimental outtakes of my first attempt at writing about landscape, an entirely serious paper on records management in sci-fi, the thesis I didn’t want to acknowledge for the better part of two years. I’m happy to be releasing things on my own terms. My first! peer-reviewed! article! is coming out soon in the (open access!) Journal of Radical Librarianship, co-authored with the hyperbrilliant Jane Schmidt, and I hope that every early-career librarian-archivist type has the opportunity to publish with such generous peers who are a little further down the path. We’re presenting it for a second time at the upcoming TRY+ conference, where I am also participating in a panel on the work that cataloguers and collections specialists can engage in to support the recommendations of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. As a cartographic cataloguer who spent much of last week sorting through hundreds of maps representing mining potential on Treaty 3 and Treaty 9 lands, I try and think of all the ways in which I can acknowledge the histories and territories of Indigenous nations, which are generally unrepresented in many of the maps I work with, in my daily work at the library. At night, I wonder how new systems could be built to tell complex and overlapping stories of place.
This past semester I started my journey to becoming an “actual archivist” (instead of just someone who Has Naive but Big Questions About Archives). I learned (mostly) traditional archival theories in a class I wanted to like more, and dipped my toe into records management in a class I didn’t expect to absolutely adore. For my midterm paper in the RM class, I wrote a tremendously goofy but thoughtful essay about the trustworthiness of records on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, submitted the day after Gul Dukat took over the Alpha Quadrant Donald Trump was elected.