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Fire sparks Little Free Library campaign

From the ashes of her Little Free Library, Laura Selden of Superior is hoping to raise 10.

The librarian and mother of three launched a GoFundMe page Sunday to raise $1,000, enough to plant 10 of the freestanding lending libraries throughout the city.

The fundraiser was prompted by arson.

Early Sunday morning, the Selden family was unpacking from vacation when someone set the Little Free Library in front of their house ablaze. Selden and her husband put the fire out, but the structure and the books inside were destroyed.

"I was angry," the Superior woman said. "You feel personally violated."

The Little Free Library had been a Mother's Day gift to Selden from her husband years ago.

"I've always been a reader, always loved books," said Selden, a librarian with the Duluth Public Library.

The little structure shared that love of books with the neighborhood.

"Take a book, leave a book," Selden said.

The family would rotate in titles from their own shelves. They accepted bags full of donated books to lend out.

"I love when people stop," Selden said. "Sometimes we peek through the blinds to see what they take."

One of her favorite summertime visitors was a young boy who would ride up on his bike, grab a book from the library, sit down on the corner and read.

"I wanted to tell him he could take it home," she said.

Angry at the loss of the library and hoping to raise awareness about the arson incident, Selden posted on the You know you're from Superior, WI when ... Facebook page.

Residents responded with an outpouring of support.

"So many people offered to donate books, to donate money to rebuild a new one," Selden said.

She launched the GoFundMe site to collect donations and give a positive spin to her loss. Within 14 hours, the campaign had collected $540 and a neighbor had volunteered to build the structures. Selden's looking for material donations, as well.

"This is not about what happened to me," Selden said, stressing that her family plans to rebuild their Little Free Library with their own funds. "This is about the community. We're trying to make this community a better place."

Selden plans to sink the money into libraries throughout the city.

"To put one on every block in Superior we can," she wrote on the GoFundMe site. "To fill them with books for anyone and everyone. To show the person or people responsible for this incredibly sad act of vandalism that they may have burned down my Little Free Library, but it'll be back. And then some."

For more information or to donate, visit www.gofundme.com/little-free-libraries-for-superior. Find more information on Little Free Libraries at littlefreelibrary.org.

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