Burning of tiny library upsets volunteers in Port Coquitlam

Little Free Library was torched by vandals on Monday but it will be rebuilt, volunteers, organizers say

Sometimes it’s the little things that get a community fired up. In this case, it was the burning of a Little Free Library Monday night that has sparked Port Coquitlam neighbours to action.

Amber Gregory and her daughter Kyra, in Grade 9 at Kwayhquitlum middle school, have received offers of help and books to ensure the little house they painted and stocked with reading material is once again open for business.

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Up just a month as part of a community project initiated by the United Way-funded Avenues of Change, the wood-framed tiny library was torched after vandals used the books as kindling.

The blackened, charred interior of the library stands in stark contrast to the colourfully painted exterior, and you can clearly see the tag of the individual who did the damage.

“I was really devastated when I heard about it,” said Kyra, who with her mom painted the library in bright colors with images of forest animals, fish, balloons, trees and flowers.
“We wanted to paint it so the children and adults would enjoy reading books books,” Kyra told The Tri-City News.

The library at Wellington Park is one of six being installed in various locations in Port Coquitlam to promote literacy and build a sense of community. Called the Vulnerability to Village project, the initiative is a collaboration between Avenues of Change, Irvine elementary, and Port Coquitlam Heritage.

Constructed by PoCo Building Supplies and installed by the city, the libraries sit on poles that have been decorated by artwork from Irvine kindergarten students and historic images contributed by PoCo Heritage.

Other libraries are going up on Grant Avenue, Aggie Park, Irvine school, Elks Park and Norm Staff Park and all are looked after by stewards, such as the Gregorys, who hope that bringing the vandalism to people’s attention will encourage people to take ownership and protect the libraries used for sharing books.

Navreen Gill, initiative coordinator, said people have come forth with offers of help since the vandalism occurred and she said the house will be repaired and replaced.
“It was neat to see how we can come together and make it a positive,” Gill said, adding: “This is a place where people can connect and gather.”

The heavily-wooded park has historically been a problem area but neighbors have been cleaning up the underbrush, collecting couches, mattresses and other furniture while Avenues of Change volunteers have collected litter along with what appears to be items left over from criminal activity, such as a passport, drug paraphernalia and buckets of stolen copper wire.

Kyra, who has been a volunteer at the park for several months, hopes the Little Free Library will be reinstalled soon so the area can be a place where people will stay awhile, get to know each other and maybe even read to each other.

“There are children who want to read, this makes it possible for them.”

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