little free library

Toronto is cracking down on little free libraries

A senior citizen who faces $100 in fines for having free books on his Toronto property is the result of "bureaucratic bullcrap," according to his daughter – and lots of angry people on Facebook agree.

Jennifer Sherwood Hicks took to the social network yesterday after her father, who lives near Yonge and Eglinton, received a letter from the City of Toronto.

The letter, according to Hicks, was sent to notify her dad that the little free library in his front lawn "contravenes city by-laws," and stated that he must remove the wooden box and its contents within 14 days – or be fined.

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME, TORONTO??? IS THIS HOW YOU'RE SPENDING MY TAX DOLLARS...BY HARASSING SENIOR CITIZENS WHO ARE TRYING TO SPREAD A LITTLE LITERARY LOVE AROUND THE NEIGHBOURHOOD???" she wrote on Facebook Wednesday. "Excuse the caps, but I am absolutely steamed."

People from all over the city are similarly incensed over this particular situation, and by what they perceive as an attack on the Little Free Library movement – a literacy initiative that's resulted in the free exchange of millions of books between community members around the world each year.

"Pathetic," wrote one commenter on Hicks' Facebook post. "I've seen a few of these lovely community libraries popping up around the city. Personally, I love them. So sad." "It's a beautiful little library that brings curb appeal and community thoughtfulnes," wrote someone else. "What jerk is behind this madness to remove it?"

Hicks told me today that her father has contacted his city councillor in the hopes of keeping his library, which he received as a Christmas gift last year.

"My dad's a fan of mysteries, and you'll always find a few of those in the library," she says. "I keep it stocked with contemporary fiction. A few weeks ago when I posted on my Facebook page that I'd just dropped a few literary gems off, there was a bit of a bidding war over Beartown by Fredrik Backman."

Hicks says she posted about the situation on Facebook "simply to vent," but that she's happy with the response its been getting.

"I'm glad to see neighbours rallying around this cause, and promoting little libraries as community builders," she says. And rallying they are.

"I work in bylaw court often," wrote one local paralegal in the comments. "If they charge you I will take on your case for free and pay your fine if we lose."

Another person offered to pay the fine flat-out. "Where do I send $100," they asked, "to support his generosity?"

Update: The City of Toronto has had a change of heart and canceled the ticket. Little free libraries are here to stay.

Lead photo by

Michael Monastyrskyj 


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