After books vanish, free library organizer discovers true kindness|
|Mary Masterton’s worst day in a long time turned into maybe her best weekend ever.|
Hours after vandals stole the books out of the Little Free Library located outside her home at Fifth Avenue and Hudson Street, donations of new titles were overflowing the tidy little box, causing Masterton to joke that “I need a branch now.”
“Isn’t this exciting?” she said. “I’m so happy.”
The saga began in the overnight hours of Thursday and Friday, when thieves took all the books out of the tidy little box in front of her home.
It technically wasn’t a breaking and entering, or even a theft, because the books are offered free of charge. But it clearly was a violation and Masterton was crushed.
So much, in fact, that she pondered discontinuing the service.
“I felt terrible,” she said. “We were amazed that somebody would do something like that.”
But a photograph in Saturday’s Antigo Daily Journal showing the empty box changed that.
Within hours, Masterton was flooded with books, some donated from friends, acquaintances and many anonymously, began appearing on her doorstep.
“By the middle of the day Saturday, a friend came in and said the library was full,” Masterton said.
The books kept coming, including a boxful from Charles and Heather Baker of Baker’s Resale and Pawn a downtown business, that also included a note.
“They said they were sorry to hear of my loss and the library was a wonderful thing,” Masterton said. “They hoped these books would help. She expressed so well what we were thinking about. It just restored my faith.”
Masterton will spend the next few days sorting out titles, perhaps setting out a few to read herself, and then begin rotating them through the library.
Little Free library is basically a “take a book, return a book” concept, where neighbors gather to share their favorite literature and stories. The concept dates to 2009 when Todd Bol of Hudson built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher, who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his yard. His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said free books.
He was soon joined by Rick Brooks of Madison and, with the help of a website, littlefreelibrary.org, created a nationwide movement.
Masterton’s library was constructed by friends in fall, 2013.
And now, it is once again brimming with books.
“The library is full again,” she said, “I’m so happy.”
Mary Masterton’s living room is overflowing with donations to her Little Free Library, which was vandalized late last week.
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