letters | don’t count out the traditional public library

Grass-roots book drops can’t match breadth of public collections

A Little Free Library is located at 1715 Cambridge St. outside of Harvard Square.
Laura Roberts/File 2012
A Little Free Library is located at 1715 Cambridge St. outside of Harvard Square.

Jennifer Graham likes Little Free Libraries, and few would argue that there’s any downside to adding another venue for making books freely available (“In Little Free Libraries, hope for books,” Op-ed, Aug. 12). But what is she against? Downloadable e-books? Tax dollars supporting public libraries? Libraries themselves?

Community-shared Little Free Library collections will never approach the breadth of traditional library collections. Growing up outside Boston in the 1960s and ’70s, I checked out “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Great Gatsby” from the library. I also remember enjoying books shared by friends and neighbors, such as “Valley of the Dolls” and “Jaws.” I’m pretty sure the Hemingway and Fitzgerald did more to help me get into college and succeed there than did Jacqueline Susann and Peter Benchley.

As for e-books, they haven’t replaced physical books in libraries. They are just another format option, such as audiobooks and large print books. These alternate formats may be the only way that people with poor eyesight, like my 85-year-old mother-in-law, can read the new pseudonymous J.K. Rowling book “The Cuckoo’s Calling.”


By the way, when I looked up “The Cuckoo’s Calling” in the Boston Public Library’s online catalog, they had 40 e-book copies with 296 holds on them, and 47 physical copies with 310 holds. What is the problem?

Paul Heffernan