When Xandra Biamonte and her brother set up their own miniature library, dubbing it “The Wee Library,” the pair just wanted to contribute to what she said is an "amazing" program.
A few days later, the box was removed.
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.
“We thought it was just some creative do-gooders making their community better,” said Biamonte. “So as soon as we got an opportunity we decided to jump on it.”
Biamonte and her brother found an old newspaper box and they decided to refurbish it with books. She checked up on “The Wee Library” regularly and was happy to see it was doing so well.
“It just made us feel really good that it was being used and seemed appreciated,” she said.
Then, one day, they were strolling by the spot when they realized the box was gone. All that remained was a little square of paint on the grass.
Complaint prompts removal
The city removed the box from the unapproved location after receiving a complaint. Biamonte only found out about it when the story aired on CBC News. More than a dozen messages were posted to the community league Facebook page in support of the rogue box and free library program.
“It was heartwarming,” said Biamonte of the online reaction. “I didn’t expect at all for there to be such a reaction from it. It was just a fun little thing we did.
“We liked the program, we thought it was great for the community, so we figured, why not?”
Heather O’Hearn, with the City of Edmonton, said they received a complaint about the box’s “somewhat subpar” decoration compared to the images submitted as part of the original project proposal.
Biamonte says she understands the complaint and admits her library box was “a little worn for wear.”
“To each their own,” she said. “It was a little rough looking compared to the others, I will admit. I mean, scars give it personality. We were working with what we had.”
However, Biamonte was still surprised by the reaction.
“It seems odd to me that the one complaint trumps all the comments since then about how many people were using it and enjoying it,” Biamonte said.
Biamonte now wants to reach out to the community league — maybe even resurrect “The Wee Library” in a new and approved location.
“I think it’s a really great program and I would love to be a part of it — clearly,” she said. “It’s a nice feeling to see people walking by and stopping, and kids getting excited about books they see.”