Chilliwack rallies to rebuild Yarrow’s Free Little Library after it’s destroyed by arson

Barely a year old, Yarrow’s Free Little Library was set on fire on Canada Day

It all started early Canada Day morning when Yarrow’s Little Free Library was set on fire and a local farm hand shared a picture of the structure burning on Facebook.

“We got a call at 5:30 a.m. about a burning (library) box,” said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Rail. “But unfortunately, we don’t have much more to go on at this time.”

By the time the police arrived, the fire had been put out and the Little Free Library had been destroyed, yet that wasn’t destined to be the end of its story.

As the flaming photo of the Little Free Library made its rounds on social media, the community began to rage at the injustice, but they also started coming together to right a wrong.

Built in 2016, the Little Free Library was a gift to the community at large from the Yarrow Kids’ Club, and it was placed in Pioneer Park, near the washrooms in the spring of 2017 so it could be accessed by almost everybody.

“We like to take on different projects,” said Amy Klassen, who helps facilitate the Kids’ Club. “We look around at the needs of the community and one of our groups came up with this idea.

“My dad, (Vic Giesbrecht), built it with one of my daughters, then the Club was in charge of painting it, adding decorations and books, and setting it up.”

The Little Free Library movement, which got its start in Wisconsin in 2009, strives to inspire a love of reading, community interaction, and creativity by fostering neighbourhood book exchanges globally.

The first Yarrow Free Little Library was installed in spring 2017. (Submitted by Amy Klassen)

When they first put up the Free Little Library, Klassen said she wasn’t sure the community would like the idea as much as the Kids’ Club had, and was pleasantly surprised.

“I wondered if people would use it, but when I went to check on the original books we put in a few weeks later, it had all new books,” recalled Klassen happily. “The turn over indicated that people were using it and that was great.”

READ MORE: Little Free Library opens its little doors at Cultus Lake

What wasn’t great for Klassen, though, was learning of the Free Little Library’s demise, and having to share the news with her father.

But, like the rest of the community, Giesbrecht simply looked on the positive side: he’d enjoyed building the first one and now had an opportunity to build another.

“He actually had one partially completed,” explained Klassen. “My dad is very fast, and had (so much) fun building the first one he was building another. And since it wasn’t needed for anything else (we repurposed it to replace the now burnt one). It’s just perfect.”

However, until Yarrow’s Free Little Library could be replaced, members of the community stepped up and installed an impromptu stand-in structure until the new one can be set up.

Located against the wall of the park’s public washrooms now stands an old wooden stereo stand with a glass door and a handwritten signs that read, “Good always out does bad,” and “Young people made bad choices and burnt the library. They aren’t bad just made bad choices.”

There’s also a can of blank thank-you cards for people to fill out for Amy Klassen and her father, Vic Giesbrecht, who installed the original Free Little Library, and a note that says, “Without Amy and Vic we would not have known how nice a community library is. Thank you.”

“My dad and I received these notes and it was overwhelming,” said Klassen. “In the notes are all these encouraging words from people about how much they like the (library) and used it.

“This could’ve been a real opportunity for people to get negative and sour, but instead it turned into a way to affirm the positivity within the community, which is really, really an encouraging thing (that turns) the focus on how we can encourage and rebuild. It’s a real testimony to the spirit of the community.”

And not just the Yarrow community.

Due to the wonders of social media, shortly after Yarrow lost its Free Little Library, Amber Price—who owns The Book Man and started a Free Little Library in Cultus Lake—learned of its fate.

“Senseless acts of destruction have a way of bringing out the best in people,” said Price. “Standing up as a community against thoughtless acts is such a powerful, healing experience for everyone involved.”

“I saw the (picture of) the fire and thought, ‘We could help replace their books!’” Price said, who donated three banana boxes full of books to restock the new Yarrow Free Little Library.

“Little Free Libraries are such a cool community initiative. They become community centres where sharing books is a way to connect with your neighbours,” Price added.

“Some times something happens that can be discouraging,” said Klassen about the fire. “But that didn’t happen here—it was the opposite. The community really came together and rallied” and less than two weeks after it was destroyed, Yarrow’s Free Little Library will be back in action.

On Thursday, July 11, after adding their personal touches to the latest structure built by Giesbrecht, the the Yarrow Kids’ Club will be installing a brand new library in the old library’s spot, complete with a new selection of books.

Things like the Free Little Library “brings people out from their houses and gets them meeting each other and feeling like a community,” said Klassen. “And now that can continue.”

Anyone with any information about the burning of Yarrow’s Little Free Library is urged to contact the Chilliwack RCMP or Crime Stoppers.


@SarahGawdin
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fundraiser for teenager hit by car in Rosedale

Teen suffering multiple fractures and blood clots following incident on Yale Road

Vedder River cleanup nets bag of discarded sex toys

Chilliwack volunteers stumble on unexpected find while removing 600 lbs of trash from riverway

Hikers alert after woman approached by suspicious man in Harrison Mills

The woman and her family were hiking in the wetlands between Rowena’s Inn and Sts’ailes First Nation

Chilliwack International Spring Film Series returns to Cottonwood 4 Cinemas

Put a spring in your step with the Chilliwack International Spring Film Series’ feature titles

EDITORIAL: No think-tank report cards for the Observer

Fraser Institute’s annual school ranking isn’t a good measure of success, editor Grace Kennedy writes

Film crews descend on Agassiz for ‘Republic of Sarah’

Pioneer Avenue will be closed to traffic Monday and Tuesday

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

Trudeau sells housing plan in visit to hot real estate market in B.C.

Trudeau said the budget contains measures to help first-time buyers

Norway opens probe into why cruise ship ventured into storm

The Viking Sky was headed for southern Norway when it had engine problems on Saturday afternoon

Crash threatens Vancouver shipyard’s schedule for new coast guard ships

The delivery of the vessel was already years overdue

Fired B.C. farmland commission chair backs NDP rule changes

Richard Bullock agrees with Lana Popham, ALC records don’t

Most Read