(This story was first published in the February 28, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
By Gwen Stanley, Standard Staff
HARTLAND — Two incidences of library books being burned on the porch of the Hartland Public Library earlier this month were acts of random vandalism, officials say.
The library’s new director, Amy Wisehart, said that the books were taken from the small grey cabinet placed outside the library on the porch, called the ‘‘Little Free Library.’’ The cabinet is part of an initiative for rural libraries who aren’t able to stay open as many hours as they’d like.
“We wanted to have the cabinet outside and be part of the ‘Little Free Library’ just so that residents could have access to books 24 hours,” she said.
Patrons are expected to return the books to the shelves when they’re done.
Wisehart noted that the library has expanded its hours in recent years and is open until at least 6 p.m. four days of the week.
The books placed out on the free library shelf vary in subject, Wisehart said, and she said she didn’t think that whoever burned the books did so out of objection to any particular book or books.
“We really don’t think it was a protest of any reading material,” Wisehart said. “But, obviously it’s a huge concern because it could have set the place on fire.”
Wisehart said that in both instances, night security guard was the one who discovered the remains of the books.
Hartland’s constable, James Dow, said he wasn’t called out when the burned books were discovered but was informed of the incidences later by Hartland Town Manager Bob Stacey.
Stacey said he was told about the incidences, which happened in early February and about a week apart, by a night security guard.
“We think it was probably just kids out looking for something to do, and we’re not too concerned, but I guess it could have been a lot worse,” Stacey said.
The perpetrator or perpetrators of the book-burning would be subject to a fine for breaking Hartland’s burning ordinance.
As of Monday, the cabinet was still inside the library.
“It’s too bad,” said Wisehart, “we were excited about being part of the Little Free Library, this is kind of silly that this happened and we have to take the whole thing inside now,” she said. “We’ll think about putting it back outside eventually, but not right now.”
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