Little Free Library on Oak Park Ave. torched

Residents rebuilding after late-night blaze destroys library

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

File this under the topic "This is why we can't have nice things."

Oak Parker Sarah Corbin and her family wanted nice things, nice things for the community. So a couple of years ago her family came together to build a Little Free Library for Corbin's mother, a former teacher and reading instructor in Melrose Park, who now lives in the same two-flat as Corbin and her husband and children in the 500 block of South Oak Park Avenue.

Little Free Libraries is a nonprofit organization that encourages people to place small boxes on their property inviting people to take a book and leave a book – the best part is the whole thing is free.

Corbin's husband built the little library – most of them resemble a wooden bird house with a little door you can open to check out the free books – and her brother painted it.

But on early Thursday morning the reading fun ended with a visit from Oak Park's finest.

At about 2:30 a.m. Corbin was awakened by police and firefighters at her door.

Someone had set the Little Free Library on fire.

Oak Park Police Commander Roger Grivetti said someone waved down an officer at 12:42 a.m. and police quickly extinguished the fire. Firefighters also were dispatched to the scene to investigate.

Grivetti said there were no witnesses and no known video footage is available of the culprit. He confirmed that no one has been taken into custody. There are also no suspects. And no leads.

Asked if that meant it is an ongoing investigation, Grivetti responded, "Sure."

Corbin said the whole thing was over by the time she was awakened by emergency responders.

The Corbin family is not dissuaded by the incident, though, and have decided to rebuild. They'll be working on the new Free Little Library over the weekend, Corbin said.

She said the little library is part of the Free Little Library system; according to the Free Little Library world map on its website, there are more than 30 of the boxes in Oak Park.

The post for the Corbin's house on the website quotes Corbin's mother, Nora Abboreno: "I may be the steward but this LFL was a family project from the beginning. I have to give credit to all who helped make it. My daughter facilitated the whole project. My son-in-law constructed the library, my grandchildren primed the surface, and my son painted the black-eyed Susans on the outside. Even my son in California helped by getting the charter. It went from being my LFL to the neighborhood's when people started adding books even before the door was finished."

Corbin said in a telephone interview that the fire destroyed the library beyond repair, so they're starting from scratch. They hope to have the new library up sometime in the next few days.

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Jill Cohen Niewoehner from Oak Park  

Posted: December 9th, 2018 5:36 AM

We walk by your little library all the time. Thank you for rebuilding and bringing some joy to the neighborhood!

Johanna Brocker from River Forest, IL  

Posted: December 8th, 2018 10:59 AM

Thank you for rebuilding.

Cisco Cotto from Oak Park  

Posted: December 6th, 2018 8:54 PM

This is so senseless and sad. I'm glad the Corbin family isn't deterred and will rebuild it.

Barbara J Plona  

Posted: December 6th, 2018 5:11 PM

I know books were burned in Germany when Hitler was in power. But in Oak Park? In 2018? Whatever the reason, its a sad world we live in.

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