Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Anarchist Out-Reach, An Idea

During the past few years an interesting DIY mutual aid phenomenon has popped up. You may have one in your neighborhood, a tiny free library consisting of basically an outdoor cupboard with shelves for books. People leave books and others borrow or keep them. (Hopefully, more borrowing than keeping, but if someone loves a book so much they wish to keep it, fine by me.) With the decline in the number of book shops and the public library seemingly concentrating more on “best sellers” rather than keeping a large permanent stock, the little libraries are helping to fill those gaps. According to the web site,
there are 15,000 of these libraries world wide. But that includes only the libraries that have contacted the organization. For example, my city is credited with only a single little library, when I know of at least 4 others. So there may be more like 50 or 60,000!
Now here is a great opportunity to get people acquainted with anarchist ideas. Select some basic, introductory book on anarchism and leave it at your neighborhood little library. Some suggestions – Colin Ward's “Anarchy in Action”, Kropotkin's “Fields, Factories and Workshops”. Whatever... but they should be geared towards people who have no idea, or worse, the wrong ideas, about anarchism. Essentially, stuff too esoteric, weird or resonating with sectarian infighting should be completely avoided. Since these libraries often take pamphlets and periodicals, those too may be left, but with the same proviso as the books. Whatever you do, don't overdo it. People will get annoyed if you cram the shelves with anarchist materials. No one likes to have ideas shoved down their throats. A couple of books is enough. Monitor the library to see that the books are being borrowed. If it is plain that someone has taken them permanently, then replace them. If you have an anarchist group in your town, acquiring basic anarchist books and stocking the little libraries could be one of you activities. If your neighborhood doesn't have a little library, the group could take it on as a task to create one. I have no idea how many people actually use these libraries, but suppose it was only two hundred in the course of a year, with say 5 libraries in town, you have a potential readership of a thousand people, the vast majority of whom you would otherwise never be in contact with.

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