Rogue library box removed from Oliver park by the City

Residents in Oliver and beyond are rallying after a free book box was taken down by the city.

City says removed library box was not in approved location

The Oliver Community League runs 10 free "Little Free Libraries" throughout the neighbourhood. A spokesperson for the league said organizers didn't even know about the rogue book box until they received word from the city that it had been taken away. (CBC)

Residents in Oliver and beyond are rallying after a free book box was taken down by the city.

Last year, the Oliver Community League installed 10 miniature libraries in old newspaper boxes throughout the neighbourhood giving bookworms the chance to swap out old books for new, free of charge.

However, a new anonymous book box, “The Wee Library,” recently turned up in an area park without the community league’s help.

In fact, Jarrett Campbell with the community league said organizers did not even know about the new library box until they received an email from the city saying it had been taken down after a complaint was made.

“I realized it was just someone kind of  taking the initiative on their own,” he said. “I thought it was fantastic.”

However, the city did not appear to share the sentiment.

The "Wee Library" - a free mini-book exchange in Oliver - was taken down by city staff after a complaint was made about the box's decoration and broken door. (City of Edmonton)

In an email to the community league, Heather O'Hearn with the city said the location had not been approved and that the box lacked an approval sticker showing that it would be maintained by the league.

O'Hearn said the complaint also mentioned the box’s “somewhat subpar” decoration compared to the images submitted as part of the original project proposal and said its door was broken.

The message then goes on to list several other library boxes in unapproved locations, asking the group to remove them.

The community league, however, says the box in the question was the only one not in an approved location.

"So they jumped to the conclusion that the Oliver Community League had put it out and that we had broken the rules of our agreement ... and that we needed to do something about this,” Campbell said.

Since the Wee Library was taken down, more than a dozen messages have been posted to the community league Facebook page in support of the rogue box and free library program.

"I put books in there and I was using it! Come on!” wrote Heather AshleighGolberg.

“I don't quite understand why there would be complaints about a free book exchange that promotes reading and literacy in a community. Especially when the boxes themselves are works of art. This is something that should be embraced and encouraged,” seconded Jill Razell.

The City has not yet responded to CBC’s request for more information about the rogue library.

Campbell said he is still trying to track down the person behind the dismantled library in the hopes of getting it back on the street.


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