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Little Free Library vandalized and fixed for fifth time

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - One of South Bend’s ‘Little Free Libraries’ has been destroyed yet again, and the community is fed up.

The original goal of the initiative was to provide free books for kids in South Bend, but somehow, many end up being vandalized.

Over the weekend, the book hut in Muessel Grove Park was knocked over.

“It’s sad that they tear stuff up like that, that’s for the kids,” said April Sanderson, who lives near the park.

April Sanderson walks her grandkids one block to pick out a book about every other week.

“Read that one, bring it back, get a new one, but yeah, they was really excited about it,” she said.

“I don’t know the motivation of why people would want to just come and wreck that, I don’t know,” said Derek Dieter, who originally introduced the book huts around South Bend.

Retired policeman and city councilman Derek Dieter put up the book hut in Muessel Park as well as four others back in 2014 to encourage kids to read.

“The premise is give a book, take a book…seemed like a no-brainer to me to put these up in neighborhoods,” said Dieter.

He says, for some reason, the one on Portage and Vassar is the only library that hasn’t become the victim of vandals.

The one in Muessel Park is on its fifth life.

Another family put up a little library by Marquette Elementary last year, and it too was destroyed within 48 hours.

They say it’s stayed standing since they reinforced it and added a sign that says‘Please respect this property.’

“You know you could have people out here watching it all day or hiding in the trees, but at the end of the day if people keep wrecking it, there’s a point where everybody can say you know what I’ve done what I could for the overall good of society,” said Dieter.

Luckily for neighbors, one father-son duo still plans to fix ‘er up.

“It’s a labor of love really. We just hope that it, we hate to see it come down every time,” said Matthew Neumann, who repaired the Muessel Park hut.

As a self-proclaimed book-worm, 17-year-old Matthew Neumann says he believes in the importance of the Little Free Library.

“Books are incredible for young kids growing up, and …maybe people can’t make it to the library or it’s nice to just have something local that the community can access fairly easily,” he said.

He hopes that with this last repair, South Bend can turn the page.

So far, no one has been caught in connection with any of these cases.

If police do find the culprits, they could be looking at a $1,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail.

If you see a ‘Little Free Library’ with any damage, you can call the South Bend Police Department or the Venues, Parks, and Arts Department.

For information on St. Joseph County Public Library programs, click here.

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