Senseless vandalism brings community connections
Okotoks: Cameron Crossing School to repair Little Free Library dumped in Sheep River
Wednesday, Sep 27, 2017 06:00 am
An act of senseless vandalism has turned into a community-building initiative thanks to a local school.
The Little Free Library located in the garden of the Okotoks Public Library was found in the Sheep River early in the morning on Sept. 19. Library director Tessa Nettleton said she found the library on her way to work that morning.
“I came over the (Laurie Boyd) bridge, and as I was walking I saw this red thing in the water, and I was wondering what got thrown into the water because normally there’s bicycles and all sorts of stuff in the river,” said Nettleton. “And, the Little Free Library was what it was.”
She called the Town of Okotoks to ask how to remove it from the water, but it was difficult for employees to reach it. The fire department was called to assist in the rescue, she said.
In the meantime, a library patron decided to take matters into their own hands, she said.
“One of our patrons, who has a Little Free Library, was really upset, and went and actually waded in and got it out,” said Nettleton. “It is slightly damaged, but it is intact.”
The library had been in the garden for over a year, she said. It was primarily decorative so there weren’t any books in it at the time.
Nettleton posted photos of the floating Little Free Library to the Okotoks Public Library’s Facebook page, where it received attention from more than 300 people and 63 comments.
It was on the Facebook page where Stephanie Laborge, a psychology intern student with Cameron Crossing School in Okotoks, saw what had happened and decided there was something the students could do about it.
“We had talked a lot with the principal about community engagement and involving he youth in the community and the positive benefits that has, not only for the youth but also for the community to see these kids in a positive light,” said Laborge. “We’re essentially neighbours with the library, so I thought what a great opportunity to perhaps build them a new Little Free Library.”
She contacted the library and found out it was repairable, so students from Cameron Crossing picked up the library and brought it to their school. Since then, she said the students have been curious about the structure and thinking of different ways to fix it up.
It’s been an interesting centre of discussion, she said. The students are taking ownership of the Little Free Library and taking pride in fixing something for the community, she said.
“At first the kids reaction was maybe they thought it was fun or funny, then one of the boys told me it was a silly thing to do because it’s impacting the community,” said Laborge.
She said the students started thinking about ways to prevent the same things from happening again, like relocating the Little Free Library, anchoring it in its place, or putting weights inside to make it more difficult to lift.
“They’re thinking about what would happen if someone did this again to the Little Free Library after we fix it up, so seeing them take that ownership of what it might look like to be on the receiving end of something negative like that I think was enlightening for them,” said Laborge.
Nettleton said she told the school to take ownership of the project and decorate the outside to suit their style, including the school name somehow on the exterior to give Cameron Crossing proper recognition.
“It’s a really great community connection, for them to want to do this,” said Nettleton. “And, they’ll have fun and be proud of it, and I like that idea very much. So a really good story has come out of it.”