Thieves clearing out 'Little Free Libraries'

Someone is ripping off Little Free Libraries in St. Paul

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Those 'Little Free Libraries' that you see in neighborhoods across the metro are becoming a target for thieves.

In recent months, several people have reported their free libraries have been emptied sometimes, repeatedly.

In the Summit-University area of St. Paul, there's a housing boom of 'Little Free Libraries." Each has character and passionate owners.

"I especially love it when I see the children come," said Gail Wolfe.

Her library was given to her as a gift from her family. It matches the outside of the home she lives in, a place that was once lived in by a Minnesota children's author.

"Reading has always been my passion. I used to live at the library when I grew up," said Wolfe.

While many have flocked to her library, it has been vandalized in red ink. About one mile away is Patrick Rhone and Bethany Gladhill's house. Their library sits on the front lawn and is a replica of their home. Patrick helped build it for his wife because she loves to read.

"It gave us a tremendous amount of joy and feeling like we were contributing even in a small way to the community as a whole," said Rhone. The spirit of the 'Little Free Library' is to take one [book] and leave one.

Recently the couple closed their library because at least a dozen times someone has cleared it out.

"We would come out and find it like completely depleted of all its books," said Rhone. Between 20-50 books would be inside the library at a time.

At one point, the family started marking the books and found them for sale in a store.

"When other people can't use it [library] because one person is taking everything, that's not the intent," said Gladhill. The couple plans to re-stock their library shelves when the time feels right.

Gail Wolfe hopes a fresh coat of paint on her library to cover up the damage will be the worst of her worries.

"I just hope that if they're taking the books that they're reading them," said Wolfe.

The St. Paul Police Department says it hasn't received any recent reports of libraries being cleared out, but says if it happens, people should file a police report.


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