CALDWELL, Texas — Who wouldn’t want their community to have access to a free little library exchange box? It would appear, that somebody in Caldwell wouldn’t. Four 'little libraries' in town have now been vandalized a total of seven times.
The international program, known as Little Free Library, allows adults and kids both to leave a book and take a book for free at these small, community-made boxes posted in public places. The idea to set up what’s now a total of 12 little library boxes throughout Caldwell, came about from a desire to make connections.
“We had noticed that the library hadn’t been used as much as far as circulation, it had gone down, and we also noticed that the parks hadn’t been used as much," explained Forrest Williams, director of administrative services for the city of Caldwell. "...Why don’t we try putting [little libraries] in the parks? Because maybe that would help try and attract people to go to the parks?”
The community was excited to get behind the project, and businesses donated free building materials, books, and labor to put the boxes together last year. Already, the program has seen some success.
“I think a lot of patrons who come to the library when we’re not open they know they can go to the parks," said Heidi Frazier, community relations manager with the Harrie P. Woodson Memorial Library. "But I think the best response is to see which little free libraries need to be filled.”
A total of 12 little libraries are located at parks and public buildings around Caldwell now, but at least four of these boxes have been vandalized a total of seven times, ever since the program started.
“Graffiti was put on one, on several sides, and the mailbox was completely crushed," Frazier said. "Doors were ripped off, the artwork on one was ripped off, the plexiglass was broken on several, one was attempted to be set on fire.”
Police reports have been taken each time this happens. Frazier theorized it could all be the work of different suspects – people just bored and looking for something new to do. The police department hopes to install game cameras in the area at some point, she said.
Until then, the Harrie P. Woodson Memorial Library will have to just keep their chins up.
"I think it is worth that asset being in the community and having that piece," Williams said. "... It does bring the literacy aspect to people who might not be a resident in Caldwell.”
If you would like to help protect this resource, the library ask residents keep their eyes and ears open, and report any suspicious activity to the Caldwell Police Department. (979) 567-4455