America-Hating Monster Wages War Against Tiny Library In West L.A.
One anonymous villain who hates kids and America is waging a war against a tiny public library in West L.A. You may have seen little hand-made lending libraries full of used books popping up around Los Angeles. They encourage neighbors to take one book and leave another, cultivating a rotating selection of novels and nonfiction. The idea comes from Free Little Libraries. It seems ludicrous that anyone could be offended by such an innocent and well-intentioned concept, but where there's a NIMBY, there's a way.
Peter Cook is an actor who, under his stage name Peter Mackenzie, has appeared in numerous TV shows like Black-ish and Hart of Dixie. After seeing several Free Little Libraries around town, he decided to build his own in November, the L.A. Times reports. He gathered a few wine crates from a local liquor store, and fashioned them into bookshelves, then screwed them into a post. He and his wife, a teacher and writer, provided a few books. Cook put the library next to a utility pole and a stop sign on at the corner of Tennessee and Manning avenues in West L.A. He called it "The Tenn-Mann Library."
Neighbors enjoyed it, often donating books or stopping by to pick out a new read. Cook said he saw all ages and all kinds of people peruse the selection. One neighbor even took it upon themselves to cover the books with plastic when it rained.
But in January, one mysterious villain, full of vitriol and bile, left a note on the library that read: "Take it down or the city will," noting that this fact had been confirmed by the note-writer with the City and the LAPD. The note was signed by "a neighbor who hates you and your kids." The back of the note said: "Fuck America." This was confirmed by Read With Dana, a blog dedicated to reading run by a book-loving neighbor of Cook's. She also posted a photo of the offending library on her public Facebook page.
Cook says he isn't sure which neighbor this would be, and actually doesn't think it's a neighbor he knows at all. Also, Cook's kids are all fully grown.
You'd think the City would side with Cook—free giver of knowledge and joy. However, Cook seems to be dealing with the government from Fahrenheit 451. An employee of the Bureau of Street Services showed up to Cook's door and, though apologetic, informed Cook that his library was a violation. Specifically, an "obstruction" situated on public property. He gave Cook seven days to take it down or face fines.
An obstruction would be something that blocks a driver's view, makes it hard to open a car door when parked or gets in the way of people walking on the sidewalk. While the law's the law, the library really isn't actually obstruction anything that Cook can figure. Cook could move it to his own yard which is private property, but then, he argues, it wouldn't really be a public library. That might seem like a small thing to argue, but can you blame him? He's getting threatening letters from someone who hates books—and America!
There is a petition circulating (a paper one, of course, not an online one) to save the Tenn-Mann Library, citing such big-name signers as Cook's mailman. Councilman Paul Koretz's office has said that Cook may be able to get a permit for his library.