MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Melissa Summers woke up to an unpleasant surprise on the morning after Christmas.
At least one arsonist targeted the Little Free Library in her front yard on 48th & Portland Avenue South in Minneapolis.
According to the Minneapolis Fire Department, Station 27 was called to the fire at Summers’ Little Free Library around 2 a.m.
Crews used a pump can and snow to extinguish the blaze. Charred pages are now scattered across Melissa’s yard. They are the only remnants of the loss.
“It’s been very popular,” the mother of two told Fox 9. “It was covered in scrabble tiles, spelling out authors names on the sides.”
The vandalized library was such a draw it was even a “Poké Stop” for Pokémon Go players.
“People [use it so they] can share books that they loved and give other people the opportunity to read something that would otherwise collect dust on a shelf in the house,” Summers said.
Summers’ Little Free Library also doubled as a toy exchange but wasn’t only for children.
“We have an older gentleman who walks by everyday who takes a book or two out,” Summers said.
Summers’ children built the free library for her a few years ago for her birthday.
But, the gift she freely shared with her neighborhood is now a total loss.
“I don’t know many kids who aren’t a little pyromaniac, I just wish they wouldn’t have burned my library,” Summers said.
“They used some type of accelerant and set the box on fire,” MFD Assistant Chief Bryan Tyner said.
No one is in custody for the fire.
“If you think of books representing knowledge, creativity and the joy of reading, for somebody to just burn down all of that to me is unacceptable,” Tyner said. “Arson is a crime.”
“Unfortunately, incidents like this do occur, but they happen very rarely,” Little Free Library’s marketing assistant Lynnea Chelstrom said in an email to Fox 9. “We see the communities rally together to overcome any vandalism and that they find the benefits of a Little Free Library far outweigh any potential problems.”
The Little Free Library organization issued a care package of books to help Summers replace the library, but she plans to spend anywhere from $200 to $300 to get a brand new one installed.
“They’re not going to stop it,” Summers said. “We’re going to put another one up there. It’ll be prettier.”