the etiquette of small street libraries

Q: Our neighbors have installed a small street library outside their home. There is only room for a small selection of publications, and now a very large Bible study book takes up a lot of space. Would I break street library etiquette if I “borrowed” it to make room for other books?
RM, Hurstbridge, Vic

Illustration by Simon Letch.Credit:

AN: Lately, little street libraries have been popping up all over the place: You go out to mow your wildlife patch and a neighbor will stare at you and say, “Excuse me, this is a library. People are trying to read here. shhhhhh!Pedestrians have to walk by on tiptoe, children have to get off their bicycles, cars have to switch off their engines and drive by calmly in neutral.

Personally, I think that small street libraries provide a great service to the community. In fact, I’d love to see them offer the full Big Library experience: an overly peach-colored librarian behind the front door; a children’s garden corner with urine-scented beanbags; and a free driveway computer for seniors to write angry letters to the council and google home remedies for post-nasal drops.

Small street libraries operate on the same principle as large libraries, so if you borrow a Bible study book, you are expected to return it. But you wrote “borrowed” in quotes so it sounds like you’re planning to mulch it or burn it in a sacrificial fire dancing around wearing nothing but a cowbell (I’ve heard about you Hurstbridge pagans).


No, you cannot burn this book of the Bible: someone else may want to read it – perhaps one of the Nutfield Christians from the next congregation. So if you ‘borrow’ it, make sure you bring it back within 21 days, then tiptoe home, making sure to stop at the little pantry two houses down. Apparently they do an excellent house brand Mexe Beans and macaroni.

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