15 Sep 2014
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Someone's Stealing Suburb's Stories

A Little Free Library turned up empty, gutted of its children’s book. Down the street, another. Who’s stealing suburb’s children’s stories?

Someone's Stealing Suburb's Stories

The Little Free Library movement began simply in 2009 when Tod Bol wanted to pay tribute to his schoolteacher mother, an avid reader. Now, there are more than 18,000 of the little structures around the world. (Patch file photo)

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Residents of a Michigan suburb want to know who’s stealing their children’s stories and a neighborhood’s good intentions.

Someone stole all the children’s books from the two Little Free Library installations in Davison, MLive/The Flint Journal reports. This is a dirty, rotten shame, say a couple of volunteer “librarians” from the Flint suburb of about 5,000, and they want to get to the bottom of it.

If you’ve never heard of it, the Little Free Library movement represents much that is good in neighborhoods in America and around the world.

The first Little Free Library was built five years ago in Hudson, WI, by Tod Bol. He wanted to honor his late mother, a school teacher and avid reader, and came up with an idea he hoped would instill in others her passion for books and reading: A small library filled with books to be shared with friends, neighbors or passersby. He wanted

The idea behind the Little Free Library was to “take a book and leave a book.”

Read: “leave a book.”

One of the Little Free Library installations targeted by the story-stealers in Davison was located in Kim Carter’s yard. She and her grandson, 6-year-old Diego Garcia, opened the library in June after shingling the rooftop and adding whimsical touches to the wood paneling. For the most part, those using it honored the code of reciprocation.

Carter was gone from her home for about three hours Wednesday, Aug. 27, and when she returned, the nearly 50 books in the library had vanished.

“They cleaned them out,” said a neighbor, Bev Nichols, who saw the whole thing going down. She looked up from cooking dinner for her family at the exact time someone in a red car, possibly a Cavalier, stashed the books in the trunk.

“We have a natural sense of wanting to be connected, but there are so many things that push us apart.I think Little Free Libraries open the door to conversations we want to have with each other.” – Little Free Library founder Tod Bol to The Atlantic

“I was horrified,” Carter said.

A few blocks away, Lisa Brewer and Jeff Lipp were also vexed.

On the same evening, they discovered their library empty and relieved of its children’s books.

Lipp had constructed it with the couple’s children in an upcycle project using materials from a garage he had been tearing down. He “thought it would be neat and fun for the kids,” Brewer said, adding the site has been “very successful” since it was installed a few months ago.

This development isn’t at all what Tod Bol had in mind when he built the first Little Free Library in 2009, starting a movement that has grown to 18,000 miniature libraries in each of the 50 states and in 70 countries.

Bol compared the Little Free Library to a neighborhood water cooler, a place where people stopped for a purpose – exchanging books – but loitered over conversation.

“We have a natural sense of wanting to be connected, but there are so many things that push us apart,” Bol told The Atlantic. “I think Little Free Libraries open the door to conversations we want to have with each other.”

In Davison, a conversation has already started.

Both “librarians” vow to fill their library shelves. In the meantime, they’re sending the Little Free Library bandit a message:

“Sorry, closed due to theft!” Carter wrote on a sign now hanging on her empty library.

Brewer and her family took a more direct approach, with a note that read in part:

“These were the book that were graciously donated by us, you and your fellow neighbors over the last few months and now we have nothing left to fill our shelves.”

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