Neighbors on Otter Tail Lake discovered the Little Free Library in their neighborhood vandalized last week. All the books in the little library were stolen, a plexiglass display was broken and the racist phrase “Black N------ Matter” was written inside.
The vandalism was found on Tuesday, Sept. 15 and police were called. Officers photographed the damage.
The little library was built by Dennis Stanford in 2016. Stanford passed away in 2018 but his wife, Mary Therese Alberg, and her neighbors continue to care for the library. “He was a very creative man, he was an artist at heart, he was a renaissance man, and he just loved to build and he loved books and he wanted to share both of those with the community,” Alberg says. “He was a very kind, compassionate man.”
After taking photos of the damage, Alberg and her neighbors set to work fixing it up again. In addition to the theft of the books and the graffiti, Alberg says, “The house looks like a Hobbit house, he wanted it to look like a Hobbit house, and then there was a plexiglass on the bottom and underneath the plexiglass was put ‘The Hobbit,’ the book ‘The Hobbit,’ and they broke the plexiglass and stole ‘The Hobbit’ book as well. … We’re fixing it and carrying on, filling it up again.”
Although the vandalism was discovered on Sept. 15, Alberg and her neighbors aren’t sure when exactly it happened. Whoever did it also remains unknown.
“I would want to understand why they did this and let them know that this was just a gift that we are giving to the community,” Alberg says. “No matter what their political stance is or anything, this was built by a man that loved everyone and welcomed everyone into our home. It’s a gift to the community for everyone, all walks of life, all political beliefs.”
The Little Free Library will be repaired and filled with books again, though the books will be removed in the winter to prevent water damage from snow.
“We’re just very saddened, we’ve very disappointed. We want to carry on, we’ll continue to share our books and this is not about hate, this is just something we want to continue to share,” Alberg says. “We’re not fighting back, we’re just going to carry on. Continue to live our kindness and compassion and wanting to share literature with everyone.”