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Weirdly Hostile Westsider Waging War on a Tiny Public Library

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Little free libraries are small, usually handmade structures full of books and accompanied by the open invitation to take a book or leave a book. They can be found all over Los Angeles, like in West LA, where a man named Peter Cook is now being threatened to take his down or else, says the LA Times. A single mysterious and hateful complainer (Cook says he can't imagine the person is actually a neighbor of his) left an unnecessarily mean note on the library that read, among other things, "Take it down or the city will," and signed it "a neighbor who hates you and your kids." Oh, and there was also an "[expletive] America" on the back of the note. Nice touch! The anonymous troll also filed a complaint with the city. The city followed up by serving Cook a notice of violation; the library, located on that strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street, is technically public property, and the city considers the library's presence there an "obstruction."

The city rules is that there's not supposed to be anything on the street that could potentially block the views of drivers, affect access for emergency vehicles, make it hard to open car doors, or get in the way of pedestrians. But the library, located at a four-way stop, doesn't really do any of those things. (The Times notes that there is a large tree on the sidewalk by Cook's house with roots that do fit the obstruction description, but that seems to be okay for some reason.) Regardless of the fact that the library isn't a real obstruction, the citation gave Cook seven days to take the library down or move it onto private property, like his lawn.

On principle, Cook doesn't want to do that. He wants the library to be public, and if it's on private property, it's no longer public, now is it? He argues that the library has brought people together, started conversations between neighbors. It's really become a neighborhood fixture; locals take care of the library, even going so far as to cover it with plastic during spontaneous rains while Cook was out. Not wanting to give in to a "cowardly, anonymous bully" or "the blinded Cyclops of L.A. city — wildly swinging its cudgel to destroy something that has made the city and this neighborhood a better place," Cook will instead fight the citation; it's possible he may even be able to apply for a permit to keep the library and to pay for the permit with funds from a local arts organization, says a rep for Councilmember Paul Koretz's office.
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