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Published October 18, 2013, 09:58 AM

Grand Forks woman starts mini library, but plagued by vandals

Grand Forks has its public library off of South Washington Street, and then there’s Sarine Weingarten’s public library at 722 Walnut St. But for Weingarten, things have not worked out very well.

By: Jennifer Johnson, Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks has its public library off of South Washington Street, and then there’s Sarine Weingarten’s public library at 722 Walnut St.

She built the library in a box and installed it outside her home a year ago as a way to honor her late grandmother, who loved to read, she said. At her office, she installed another little library.

It’s part of the Little Free Library movement, which a man in Hudson, Wis., began as a way to honor his mother, a teacher who loved to read. The movement’s motto, “Take a book, leave a book,” says it all.

There are now an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 little libraries around the world, including in St. Hilaire, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Walker and Hackensack in northwest Minnesota and Fargo, Dickinson and Lisbon in North Dakota, according to LittleFreeLibrary.org.

But for Weingarten, things have not worked out very well.

Weingarten said she stocked the shelves with about $50 to $60 worth of books but those who took them rarely returned them.

“If you drive by my house, I think there’s maybe 10 or 12 in there, where in prior months it had been packed,” she said. “That’s not how it’s supposed to be.”

A sign is posted on the box that states people are supposed to take a book and leave a book, and Weingarten stamped the inside of each book with a request to return it to her address, she said.

The box itself has been vandalized twice since she installed it. Once, she found all of the books on the ground and later discovered the door ripped off the frame, she said.

Weingarten said she also had to remove the library at her office at Northern Bag and Box Co. after the entire stock was repeatedly removed.

These actions have disappointed her, especially as she loved the concept of the library, she said.

“I love the fact that it’s set up to share books with the people right around you,” she said. “The idea is to make it more of a community on your block, where you’re actually talking to your neighbors, and not going from your car to your house and not seeing anybody.”

Weingarten still plans to make the library outside of her house available, as long as it doesn’t get completely destroyed, she said. She’s also knows of one other woman who was interested in starting one, she said.

“I still think it’s a cool concept,” she said. “I have hope that it will continue.”

On the Web: LittleFreeLibrary.org. Locations of all libraries are available. The one in St. Hilaire, the only other one in the Grand Forks region, is at 212 Minnesota Ave. S.

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