June 23, 2016

Little Free Library sees vandalism, Kansas City experiences the power of a Little Free Library


McDermott's Little Free Library. Image courtesy of KSHB

Wendy McDermott’s Little Free Library. Image courtesy of KSHB.

We’ve reported on jerks here before. You might, for example, recall that one jerk in Australia who single-handedly took down a bookstore in Melbourne, or that jerk (or group of jerks) who stole hundreds of books that were to be donated to prisoners in Texas. Or how about those Russian jerks who were stealing from their public libraries only to burn the booty—remember them? And then there is, of course, this jerk, whom we’ve reported on, well, pretty extensively over the years—for example: here, here, here, here, and here. All of this is to say, say what you will about jerks, but what they lack in goodness, they plenty make up for in nefarious variety.

Also, they are thoughtless and mean.

Our jerk of the week this week hails from Kansas City, Missouri, and is worst known for recently attempting to destroy a passion project of Missourian Wendy McDermott. McDermott, though admittedly not a huge reader herself, understands the importance of community. She also understands a library’s near-miraculous ability to foster community, to bring people together in a meaningful way. And so Wendy built a Little Free Library just outside of her home, which is on a corner that sees a lot of bike and foot traffic. But, as Ariel Rothfield reports for KSHB, a Kansas City NBC affiliate:

[L]ast week, nearly a month after it was installed, vandals targeted McDermott’s project. They smashed the glass door, cut the solar panel used to light the library at night and tore and burned some of the books.

About 40 books were in the case before the vandalism. Only two books remained in tact after the vandalism.

“They were around the street, they were a couple blocks away. To the right, to the left. Some were burned, some were just ripped,” she said. “I don’t get it. I have to be honest, I don’t understand.”

Among the two books left unscathed, no doubt, was a copy of How to Not Be a Jerk, left originally by a reformed jerk and looked over by the jerk under scrutiny. Thankfully, the young community of the Little Free Library, in the days following the vandalism, displayed its knack for uniting behind good causes. Indeed, less than a week after the jerk’s attempt to dismantle McDermott’s little yellow house of friendship and knowledge, the library is back in action: rebuilt, restocked, reopened, de-jerked.



Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.