Police in Denver are looking for a vandal who set fire to a Little Free Library in the city’s Congress Park neighborhood.
The fire was set early Monday morning, the Denver Post reported, causing heavy damage to the small community book exchange where residents and passersby can take and leave books for free. Dan Wisdom, who set up the library, told Denver’s 9News that there were 35 to 40 books in the structure, most of which were destroyed.
“Why? That’s been the overwhelming thing,” Wisdom told the television station. “Why would anybody do that?”
The 3-month-old little library was built by Wisdom’s father, and was a favorite of his 9-year-old daughter. The Post said people passing by the remains of the book exchange expressed dismay at the vandalism, with "[s]ome ... more profane than others.”
The fire apparently hasn’t deterred Wisdom, who posted an image of the burned library on the Facebook page of his real estate company. “We will do our best to get a new one up ASAP,” he promised. “If anyone would like to borrow a book, just knock on our door and we will find something that we are happy to give to you.”
Denver residents have already pledged to help by leaving books for the new library, and Wisdom is accepting donations to help rebuild it on a GoFundMe page.
The Little Free Library movement began in 2009 in Hudson, Wis., and there are now more than 30,000 of the book exchanges around the world, including about 80 in Denver. Los Angeles boasts about 60 registered libraries, with dozens more in surrounding communities.
The libraries are the subject of a recent book by author Margret Aldrich. Writing about the book for The Times, David L. Ulin summed up the appeal of the community book exchanges, calling them “an almost perfect expression of literary democracy: Take a book, return a book, reading not as commodity exchange but exchange of identity, of ideas.”