Q: Our neighbours installed a little street library outside their house. It has room for only a small selection of publications, and now a very large Bible studies book is taking up significant space. Would I be breaking street-library etiquette if I “borrowed” it in order to free up room for other books?
R. M., Hurstbridge, Vic
A: Little street libraries have been popping up everywhere lately: you go outside to mow your nature strip and a neighbour will glare at you, saying, “Excuse me, this is a library. People are trying to read here. Shhhhhhhh!” Pedestrians have to tiptoe past, kids have to get off their bikes, cars have to turn off their engines and coast silently by in neutral.
Personally, I think little street libraries provide a great community service. In fact, I’d like to see them offer the full Big Library experience: an over-peachy librarian behind the front gate; a kiddies’ garden corner with urine-scented beanbags; and a free computer in the driveway for senior citizens to write angry letters to the council and google home remedies for post-nasal drip.
Little street libraries operate on the same principle as Big Libraries, so if you borrow a Bible studies book, you’re expected to return it. But you’ve written “borrowed” in inverted commas, so it sounds as if you’re planning on mulching it or burning it in a sacrificial fire while dancing around wearing nothing but a cowbell (I’ve heard about you Hurstbridge pagans).
No, you can’t burn this Bible book: someone else might want to read it – maybe one of the Nutfield Christians from the next township. So if you “borrow” it, make sure you return it within 21 days, then tiptoe back home, making sure you stop off at the little street pantry two houses down. Apparently, they do an excellent Mexe Beans and home-brand macaroni.
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