Shreveport MPC/Staff Choke on Challenge

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by Marion MarksLittle Free Library

Following the Little Free Library issue in Shreveport has been a folly for social media gurus as the chain of bumbles by the MPC staff has only been heightened when a non-threat appeared from copy-cat Anonymous spoofs along with law-enforcement tracking of the culprits.

LFL Demo Units
Sample LFL Units

The Little Free Library (LFL) concept* is a well-established institution nationwide base on the concept that libraries, book-sharing and reading are a basis for educating the public, providing cheap recreational materials and challenging the system of who controls public access and public areas. Little Free Libraries can be found generally through social media, but Google searches also take searchers to potential local venues, where available.

The Shreveport LFL first appeared in social media in February, 2013, however the origins may predate the FaceBook group page. The founders appear to be based around librarians and bibliophiles who appreciate reading, sharing books and education shared through reading. Brittany Turner and Lamont Pearson, both graduate librarians, have been instrumental in the LFL movement locally and share their knowledge freely with any interested party. Both show compassion but little patience with MPC staff who demonstrate a less than professional attitude toward creative educational ventures that are not clearly defined in code.

Shreveport municipal authorities got off-track with many residents when an anonymous resident filed a complain regarding a local LFL, stating that he believed the LFL was not in compliance with existing zoning ordinances. City ordinances allow libraries only in commercial zones, zoning administrator Alan Clarke told The Times.

Padlocked LFLResident, Rick Edgerton said the MPC told him it would cost $500 to appeal the ruling against the Little Free Library that he and his wife, Teresa, created, KSLA-TV  reported. Edgerton made the wooden box with shelves, a hinged glass front and a sign telling people who pass their house to “take a book, return a book.”

City Councilman Jeff Everson, in whose district the Edgertons live, said that if necessary, he will work for a change that would allow the book exchange, bringing a resolution to the City Council’s next meeting.

“I think it’s just incumbent on us to find a solution as quickly as we possibly can,” said Everson, adding that he’s proud of the fight to remove the heavy chain and lock put on the box.[KTBS report]

“I’ve been tagged in a lot of the conversations going on – it’s really kind of a privilege to represent such passionate constituency,” he said.

Little Free Libraries are an international movement in which people put books outside their homes for anyone to read. People can return the same book or leave another in return. There are at least two other registered Little Free Libraries in Shreveport and a number of unofficial lending boxes around the city, said Brittany Turner, who told the Edgertons about the movement.

Councilman Everson and Clarke said they are looking at how other cities have handled similar issues.

According to the Little Free Library movement’s blog, there are more than 20,000 registered worldwide, in more than 70 countries. At least 28 are located around Louisiana, including four in New Orleans, five in Baton Rouge and three in DeRidder, according to a list at littlefreelibrary.org.

MPC Staff Questions CycleEverson said he also will look at the zoning code to see if changes need to be made to let the book exchange continue. Sadly, Clarke said the zoning division stands by its decision, and would do the same thing to any other Little Free Library that’s reported. The department only went to the Edgertons’ “because it bothered someone,” he said.

It appears Clarke too initiative that many on the MPC and City Council feel may have given Shreveport a black eye when creative solutions need to be fostered rather than have a standard answer of “NO!”

*Little Free Library is a registered trademark of Little Free Library, Ltd., 573 Co. Rd. A Suite 106, Hudson, WI 54016. Phone: 715-690-2488, Use of this name and image is restricted by U.S. and international law. All rights reserved © 2010-2014.

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