little free library disaster and how the book fairies helped in saskatchewan

A Little Free Library disaster that brought a Canadian community together

We were so sad to hear about a disaster befalling one of our most visited LFLs in Saskatchewan, and just pleased to be able to help in some way. Here is the full story from those who were there.

little free library on fire in Saskatchewan
A disaster in the middle of the night

The story from Darlene, Steward of LFL Charter #63408

“Having been awakened by some Good Samaritans who stopped when they saw the fire in our Little Free Library, we were devastated to see the end results. I had just restocked the library the night before and almost all the children’s books we had on hand were in the library at the time of the fire. 

“We were heart-broken, but we both felt we must rebuild it. One Good Samaritan called the Fire Department while the other rang our doorbell, grabbed the garden hose and tried to put out the flames, which he did.  Unfortunately, the books inside kept smoldering and Regina Fire Fighters used 500 gallons of water and foam from their truck to ensure the books did not set the library ablaze once again.

burned out little free library
In a sorry state after the fire is put out

“Word of the fire spread quickly but the words of comfort, support and offers of help came faster than we could have imagined. Our son started a GoFundMe page on our behalf & before the day was ended, the goal had been reached and surpassed. As the day wore on, donations of books kept coming fast and steady. By supper time we knew we had to get the library rebuilt, set up & operational as quickly as we could. My husband, Marty, set a date of July 21st to have it completed by.  He spent many long days and evenings working on it to get it ready.  He says he always works better under a deadline!

“The support we received was not just from our own Normanview community, but from the surrounding communities and from all over the City of Regina, from people around Saskatchewan, Canada and the United States. People gathered books from family, friends, co-workers; the Regina North Little League held a book drive and presented us with eight boxes of books for the library; children donated series of books from their own supply of books; entire families brought over individual books, bags of books and boxes of books. Books were donated in memory of a sweet little boy, Tyson Sweers, who passed away in February this year at the age of 3.

The opening ceremony of the Little Free Library in Saskatchewan

“Tyson’s family and friends wanted to ‘pay a good deed forward’ by helping the little library. Book Fairies Saskatchewan got in touch with us to let us know they were working with authors and publishers to provide new books for the library which they presented at the Opening Ceremony. Regina Kindness Rocks held a ‘Rock Sale’ to raise funds for a security camera and as well presented some lovely rocks to decorate the area around the library at the Opening Ceremony. The media helped immensely in getting the word out about the fire, the need for books, and the follow-up reports on the Opening Ceremony.

new little free library in Saskatchewan
The new and improved Little Free Library

“We built the original library to give back to our community and to encourage children, young people, adults and seniors alike to read.  We know how important reading to children and with children is, and how much they benefit from being exposed to reading before they start school.

“The community seemed to like the concept and the library was well used and books were being donated consistently. We did not realise how much it meant until it was destroyed, and everyone seemed to feel the loss as much as we did.

“The rebuilt Little Free Library is slightly larger than the original to accommodate more books of varying sizes, which due to larger size children’s books, was sometimes difficult to accomplish in the original sized library.

“The rebuilt version of the Little Free Library is truly a community library, built by the community for the community and as the steward, I am so grateful and proud of them for making it all come together so quickly.”

little free library disaster and how the book fairies helped in saskatchewan
Darlene and Marty proudly open the new Little Free Library

The story from Jenn, official book fairy for Saskatchewan

“On Monday, July 1, 2019 (Canada Day) I received a text from my Mini Book Fairy Zoe’s mom regarding someone burning down a Little Free Library in Normanview Neighbourhood in Regina, Saskatchewan at 4am. I could not believe what I was reading, I was lost for words. Not only had the action taken away this community book sharing movement, but also risked the lives of the owners.

“This Little Free Library has become one of our favourite spots to hide books. Why? Beside from the obvious high traffic; it is simply unique. They have reading bench, weather station, huge rock, community bulletin and gardening seeds. I read the owners, Darlene and Marty were planning to rebuild their Little Free Library, I didn’t have to think twice about donating them some books. I contacted Darlene and asked her for the LFL’s completion date so we can restock it before the grand re-opening ceremony. She had no words to describe how grateful she felt.

the opening ceremony of the new little free library and the book fairies

“Within a couple weeks, she invited us to attend the LFL’s Grand Re-opening Ceremony on Sunday, July 21. I knew that Saskatchewan has a strong community, being a book fairy, I decided to post on social media to see if there will be anyone out there that would help us donate this LFL some children books. Within 24hrs I was able to get book donations. Canadian author Holly Preston donated 15 signed copies of her books. KidLit Blogger’s Laura O’Brien from Melville, SK donated 7 books. Canadian author Lisa Bowes connected me with Olivia from Orca Book Publishers; they donated 9 books. Mini Book Fairy Zoe and I donated 9 books. Regina Kindness Rocks, Tiffany who is also a local book fairy donated her beautiful painted rocks and books. In total we donated approximately 50 books.

kids holding copies of Harry Potter at the Little Free Library

“During the LFL’s library re-opening ceremony, Zoe, Tiffany and I met the community of the Normanview’s Little Free Libraries. They all have been visited by The Book Fairies this year. They were so thankful for the books and wanted to know more about The Book Fairies. Darlene asked me what I like most about being a Book Fairy. I pointed to the kids who were all smiles and devouring the books we just left in her LFL and said “That’s why I keep doing what I do. Sharing my love of reading to others. Encouraging children to read.””

Thank you to both Darlene and Jean for sharing this heartbreaking and also heartwarming story! Do YOU have a book fairy story to share? Email us on bookfairyemail@gmail.com as we would love to hear from you!

Would you like to join The Book Fairies?

Anyone, anywhere in the world, can be a book fairy. All you need is a love of books and a willingness to share them – oh and those all important official book fairy stickers! The stickers tell the book finder that it’s ok to pick up the book, and that they can read and leave it for someone when they’ve finished!

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