MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — St. Paul Police are looking for the person taking books out of “Little Free Libraries” and selling them at book stores.
Little Free Library owners say they noticed a pattern several months ago. They would fill up the libraries with books, but instead of people taking one to read and replacing it with another, someone was leaving the shelves bare.
Little Free libraries are meant to create a community of sharing and reading.
“I love the sense of community,” said Patrick Rhone.
Rhone built this one for his wife and decorated it just like their historic St. Paul home. People can walk buy, see a book they like and take it just as long as they return it or put another book in its place.
This community of reading was going well until a couple of months ago.
“At first I thought wow a busy day at the little library, like everything’s gone. We would refill it and a couple of days later, maybe the next week it would be completely emptied out again,” Rhone said. “After a couple of times of that, this was something that was happening.”
The disappearing books led Rhone to leave a note.
“It actually started with a smaller gentler note that this library is for the joy and benefit of all. Please do not take all the books for yourself,” Rhone said.
But it didn’t stop.
A quick check of neighborhood groups on social media let Rhone know that he was not alone.
Books at other Little Free Libraries across St. Paul were being taken. Rhone then did a little detective work of his own.
“I actually made a couple of covert marks in a couple of key books just to kind of see what would happen. It turned out that I later found them at local used book stores,” Rhone said.
St. Paul police now have leads on the person responsible.
A postal service worker tracked a man taking books from three Little Free Libraries in St. Paul.
Rhone hopes police catch the guy so he and others can continue building that community of sharing and reading.
St. Paul Police says it is investigating this rash of Little Free Library shelf clearings.
If you have any information about what is going on, please call St. Paul police.