One day shy of the one-year anniversary of her Little Free Library, Amy Upson came home to see the library books all over her sidewalk with messages written on the sidewalk in thick chalk in front of it.
Around midnight Sept. 7, Upson pulled into her driveway on Nettle Street in Morris and was devastated to see the books she has left for others to take and read piled up on the sidewalk. Upon further investigation, she noticed two hearts with infinity symbols through them.
It began to rain, so Upson tossed the books back into the library in case of heavy rains and noticed a message under the books that read, “A dark spell was found here.” She said there was no damage to the structure of the library, but was thankful it did not rain because all of the books would have been ruined.
The next morning, she called the police to file a complaint, so that if anything else escalated, she would have it on file that there was vandalism. She left that day, and upon her return, she noticed two pink crosses on either side of the hearts, which were not originally on the site.
Upson said, due to chalk being used for the graffiti, it must have been kids of some age, and was not worried about the message being scary or of a demonic nature.
“I’m sure kids were out and wanted to find a little excitement, but don’t throw my books all over the ground,” Upson said.
She thinks the act was premeditated because someone had the chalk in hand when they approached the library and knew they were gone, as both instances happened when she was away. Also, the books were not thrown haphazardly, but directly over the message on the sidewalk.
“I hope whoever did this sees this or parents see this and have talks with their kids about respecting property. I hope talks will happen about harmful practical jokes and harmless practical jokes because destruction of property is never cool,” Upson said.
On Saturday morning, as Upson prepared to clean up the sidewalk, Shannon Borgstrom and her sons, JJ and Cory, walked by from the Three French Hens festival down the street from Upson’s home. Cory, corn dog and stick in hand, asked his mom to please allow him to grab a book. He and his brother dug through the library to find a book for each of them to take home.
“We walk downtown Morris and usually go straight up to Liberty Street, but one day we decided to come down here (Nettle Street) and the boys saw the library and we took some books. They’ve seen these mentioned on Disney Channel and know what it is,” Borgstrom said. “Now this is good motivation to for a walk.”
Upson said she asked the neighbors if they saw anything on the night of the vandalism, but with the homes facing different directions and the heavily wooded street, no one had any leads.
Upson’s father, who lives in Iowa built this for her last year after her maternal grandmother, who loved to read, passed. She also said she does not get to see her father often, so each time she pulls into the driveway and looks at the library, it reminds her of him.
She said she registered it with LittleFreeLibrary.org and anyone who looks for a library online can find hers in Morris. She has books for the young child as well as teens and adults.
“I see about five people per week, kids and adults, come by here and the books are constantly rotating. People can keep the books that mean something to them, and bring back the others to share,” Upson said. “I’m passionate about education and if I can bring a new experience to kids through books, that makes me happy.”
If you would like to share or take a book, Upson’s Little Free Library is located at her home at 304 Nettle Street in Morris.