4-H library project relocated due to vandalism
Repeated vandalism at the "Doctor Who"-inspired library over the past three years has resulted in its removal from Lindquist Park.
The Pine Cones 4-H Club spent a year constructing the whimsical blue, British-style police box — a replica of a time-traveling spaceship from the popular, science-fiction TV show. It was completed in 2015.
Within a year, the windows were smashed and bookshelves torn off the walls. Charlie Edwins, one of the fathers who helped 4-Hers construct the 10-foot tall library, regularly checked it every day in 2016, finding cigarettes, garbage and names scratched into the walls.
"Multiple times there've been books started on fire somehow," reported Stephanie Kern, a Pine Cones 4-H Club parent.
Someone left used tampons, she added.
Vandals struck again last spring and in August.
"This last time, it was a pile of poop," Kern said, adding that someone not only defecated on the floor, but also peed on the books. "It was so gross in there."
The Pinecones 4-H Club had received a $700 Helping Hands Grant from the Minnesota 4-H Foundation to help purchase building materials and books. Like other Little Free Libraries, the book exchange worked on the honor system. People donate books and borrow others.
Kern said the club has spent hundreds on repairs. A Boy Scout earned his Eagle Scout Award by fixing it, winterizing it and repairing its leaky roof.
"There've been multiple kids and parents working on it," Kern said.
The library is now located on private property. Kern said she called 4-H families, looking for a new home. Cory and Jennifer Miller offered to permanently relocate the 400-pound structure to their yard.
"The Millers pitched in right away," Kern said.
All of the books were thrown out. The Millers power-washed the structure.
Kern said there's a need for book donations. "We're starting from square one with nothing in there," she explained.
In 2014, Pinecones 4-H Club had received Park Rapids City Council approval for three Little Free Library locations: Lindquist Park, Heartland Park and Depot Park. The club intended to build a Snoopy-style dog house at Heartland Park and a Great Northern train depot replica at Depot Park. Those plans are on hold indefinitely.
"After the first vandalism and the continuation of everything, it was like, 'OK, we're not going to have another one," Kern said. "Why have kids work so hard and have other people trash it every single time?"