Minnesota police accuse those who take free books to be ‘thieves,’ internet is up in arms

Here’s a page-turner – the internet is policing allegations made against local literary lovers accused of being book “thieves.”

A police department in Bloomington, Minnesota, is getting some flak for tweeting about “thefts” from a Little Free Library, a community-donated library that allows book worms to help themselves to a book, and bring back another to contribute.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit based in Hudson, Wisconsin. More than 100,000 Little Free Libraries exist around the world, according to the organization’s website.

“After some thefts from little libraries in our city, officers and staff came together to donate a bunch of books to the libraries. Now people can use and enjoy them again,” the Bloomington Police Department tweeted ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

The BPD suggested someone was taking books from the libraries, adding that “it is common that they are then sold for a profit, which is not the intent for the libraries.”

But critics on social media took offense to the “theft” comment, with some users confused as to how anything was stolen if the items were free to begin with.

“How can you steal something free, officers?” one users responded.

Another chimed in: “Define ‘profit.’ Because taking every book from one of these things would net you about $10 at best at a used book store.”

One diligent watchdog pulled up the Little Library’s FAQ section on its website with a question asking “can anyone use a Little Free Library? Do I have to return free books I take?” highlighting the answer that reads “the more the merrier” adding that users do not need to return the book they take but suggesting they bring one back next time they pass through.

They appeared to backtrack on their initial statement, tweeting:

“Regrettably, in our previous post we used the word theft to describe books being taken from a free library. We did not investigate this as a theft nor take a report. We simply responded by donating books that our BPD staff brought from home. A human effort,” the Bloomington Police Department tweeted.