Little free libraries have become quite a popular phenomenon in recent years, with over 90k of the public bookshelves in use to this day. One such free library in Waltham, MA (the Little Queer Free Library) has been the target of a series of thefts. The thefts have all been of the queer children’s and young adult books in the library, clearing out the majority of the library’s stock. The owners of the free library, Krysta Petrie and Katie Cohen take this as an obvious attack on the LGBTQ+ community and those who would benefit from reading the books collected in their library.
After weeks of investigation by the local police with surveillance footage showing evidence of the thief, the culprit has been caught and the majority of the removed books have been returned along with numerous donations from others around the globe in response to the couple’s initial post on social media.
Despite the fact that over twenty books were taken from the free library, there is still the fact that the books in the library are considered free and open to the public. This makes it difficult to consider it an actual theft. Even so, it had the couple concerned about the reasons behind why someone would do this. In regard to the incidents, Petrie said, “this very much feels like censorship, and if not legal theft.”
This form of censorship is no stranger to Waltham either. Recently, amidst other notable book banning’s in Tennessee and Texas, Waltham School District is yet another location attempting to ban books for “harmful” LGBTQ+ topics. The books in question are This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson and Genderqueer, A Memoir by Maia Kobabe.
With such attempts at banning books within school libraries, it makes places like the Little Queer Free Library that much more important so that LGBTQ+ youth are able to have resources that discuss topics that apply directly to them. For Cohen and Petrie, this is especially necessary as “LGBT kids have a high rate of suicide attempts and mental health problems in general,” making the library all the more important. Luckily with the books returned or replaced it stands that the Waltham Little Queer Library isn’t going anywhere, despite attacks of censorship on the library.
For more on the recent book bans click here.