Are Guerrilla Libraries Saving the Soul of Librarianship? Redefining Libraries (Part 3)

For this third edition of the redefinition of librarians I would like to point out that there are quite a few librarians (and non-librarians) creating libraries in areas where other libraries can’t (or refuse) to reach. These are normal people who believe so wholeheartedly in the benefits of libraries that they are going out into the world and creating libraries. These people are the Johnny Appleseed of librarianship and without their work many people wouldn’t have the opportunity to have access to a collection of information or literature. These are also not collections that are maintained or controlled by an entity or a formalized organization. They are more like an anarchist’s library as many don’t have any rules, regulations, or memberships. What is great about this is that I have noticed more and more people taking up the cause as libraries around the country falter and I’d like to point out a few guerilla libraries that have been put together around the world.

Mick Jones Library
Mick Jones of The Clash and various other bands has created a Rock and Roll Library. This library features rock memorabilia from his own personal collection and contains nearly 10,000 items. From what I gather this is not a quiet library (it is rock and roll after all) and since its punk, you know it will tear down the walls of the library and scream with a rebel yell at the establishment.

Telephone Booth Library
Here’s another one from the UK. This is one of Britain’s old red phone booths like you see on Harry Potter. It has been recycled into one of the country’s smallest lending libraries and only stock around 100 books. Since this library employs zero librarians, the Villagers from Westbury-sub-Mendip in Somerset can use the library 24 hours a day. The library’s “Patrons” simply replace the books they take, with books they have read thus keeping the library’s collection well stocked.

Payphone Library

Of course, America has its own version of this but maybe it’s not quite as elegant. It does work however. The concept is basically the same in that it’s an old public phone that has been re-commissioned into a self-service library that is available to the local community 24 hours a day.

Ikea Beach Library

Alright, this one really gets me mad. It was set up by Ikea to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the Billy Bookcase. I’m mad because absolutely love it and it should have been done by someone other than Ikea. I would however, like to point out that I LOVE Ikea so don’t think I have anything against them. It’s just that I really feel like a guerilla librarian or even a regular library really dropped the ball on this one. But maybe we can get some folks to replicate it somewhere else in the world. Or… There’s an Ikea right down the street from my library actually. Hmmm…

Library In a Locker
Here is a kid that is full of awesome! Apparently when he found that his school library had a bunch books that had been banned, he decided that he would offer these books from his school locker library. Here is his quote “…I now operate a little mini-library that no one has access to but myself. Practically a real library, because I keep an inventory log and give people due dates and everything. I would be in so much trouble if I got caught, but I think it’s the right thing to do because before I started, almost no kid at school but myself took an active interest in reading! Now not only are all the kids reading the banned books, but go out of their way to read anything they can get their hands on…”

CSULA Guerrilla Library
For my last entry, here is another set of kids with their own Guerrilla Library. The California State University in Los Angeles, due to budget cuts, closed its library during FINALS!! Does anything sound more asinine that that? I don’t think so, and neither do the students at CSULA. So they built their own library to study for finals and they did it Guerrilla style!

Books and Beer
My Last one is my favorite but it isn’t really a Guerrilla library as I have defined it here because its done in cooperation with a city and a library system. This library is a pub in the Yorkshire Dales may be a vision of the future for many communities. The awesome villagers of Hudswell have bought their local pub to save it from closure and have now set up a small library in part of the bar! There is nothing I love more than reading a good book with a beer in a good bar! I mean that seriously! Here is the video

Now I ask you… If libraries are going away, or aren’t necessary, why is it that so many people take the time to create their own personal libraries at home OR take the time and effort to create guerrilla libraries in their communities? I’ll tell you why! It’s because people still love libraries in all of their forms and won’t let the man hold the library back!

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