Originally published April 1, 2017.
Minnesotans can now borrow books from more than 50,000 Little Free Libraries in more than 70 countries around the world. The new service represents a significant expansion of responsibility for the delivery unit at Minitex, a library cooperative located at the University of Minnesota.
"The contents of these privately maintained libraries are a bit hard to pin down," admitted Becky Ringwelski, Minitex's associate director for resource sharing and delivery. "Our catalogers don't expect a complete inventory of the collection to be available until 2091, give or take, by which time most of the books in the collection, and indeed the Little Free Libraries themselves, are likely to have disintegrated."
Fred Finch, head of the delivery unit, recently spent $499 on a drone to handle pickups from Little Free Libraries in remote locations. "It weighs like a pound and the site said it'll fly for 45 minutes before the battery dies. It didn't say anything about carrying books, though."
"There's no way Minitex is reimbursing him for that," added Minitex's finance director, Terry Beseman.
"You could call it Sisyphean," mused Ringwelski. "But maybe Sisyphus just really liked pushing boulders uphill, you know? We definitely love getting books for Minnesotans."