Wanstead family's little library stolen, mum says

Wanstead little library stolen

A little library which a mum and her two kids set up during the first lockdown has been stolen, the parent said. - Credit: Victoria Richards

A Wanstead mum who set up a community book swap outside her home with her two young children during lockdown said it has been stolen.

Writer and poet Victoria Richards discovered the free little library was missing on Tuesday (April 27).

Victoria wrote about setting up the library from a rabbit hutch last May and how every morning her children would rush to look at what books had been dropped off.

It offered people the chance to take or drop off books for free.

When Victoria broke the news to her nine-year-old daughter that the library was gone, she burst into tears.

Her four-year-old son took a more philosophical approach and commented: "Maybe someone really loves books."

Victoria had bolted down the library but it still wasn't enough to stop the book thieves.

Victoria had bolted down the library outside her Wanstead home. - Credit: Victoria Richards


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Victoria told the Recorder: "It was a sweet way to connect to the local community during lockdown. I rarely had to replace the books - it grew organically and was never empty.

"It was a little piece of joy to see us through the dark days of social distancing, so I’m really gutted it’s come to such a sad and unexpected end."

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She said she did not report the incident to police as the hutch had little material value and does not understand why someone would steal it.

"It just seems like such a mean-minded, pointless thing to do."

The hutch was bolted to the wall outside their home.

Victoria's kids painted and stencilled it, even adding a shiny brass doorknob.

The donated books were an eclectic mix from old 1980s compendiums on skiing, autobiographies, crime thrillers, feminist essay collections and children's books.

Victoria even met a fellow poet and they exchanged books. 

She said the biggest surprise was someone left a book called Flirting, with tips and techniques on how to flirt. 

Once neighbours found out about the alleged theft, they offered to help her install a replacement which would be harder to snatch. 

Victoria said she was glad the project helped take away some of the early lockdown blues. 

"It gave a lot of people joy this past year at a time when joy was scarce. We had something to share and I'm grateful for that."

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