Vandals destroy popular Canberra street library, burn books
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Vandals destroy popular Canberra street library, burn books

Vandals have destroyed a popular Canberra street library and burnt all the books, sparking community outrage.

Lyneham and O'Connor Little Library founder Tim Hollo said he discovered the charred remains of the library on Sunday morning.

The remains of the Lyneham and O'Connor Little Library after vandals set fire to it.

The remains of the Lyneham and O'Connor Little Library after vandals set fire to it.

Photo: Tim Hollo

Mr Hollo helped set the library up about a year ago, with books kept inside a bar fridge by the bike path near the intersection of Banksia and Miller streets.

People were able to borrow from the collection or add their old books to it, and Mr Hollo estimated about 50 books would have been in the fridge when it was set on fire.

"It had happened overnight," Mr Hollo said.

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"[The bar fridge] had been tipped over and someone had burnt all the books.

"It's very distressing."

Mr Hollo said the little library had reinvigorated the previously "unloved" area where it had been established.

Chairs were also set up around the bar fridge, and he said he often saw people sitting down to read, and even meeting others there for a cup of tea.

Mr Hollo said he couldn't understand what would drive someone to set fire to a library.

"Everybody who's used it has really treated it with respect, up until now," he said.

"There was also a little notepad and pen inside [the bar fridge] where people would write notes to each other.

"It's absolutely our intention to start it up again, and we've already had lots of offers of books."

The vandalism also sparked outrage from the wider community, with a photo of the damage posted in a community Facebook group attracting hundreds of angry comments.

ACT Policing has been contacted for comment.

Lisa Petheram, who set up her little library in O'Connor about three years ago, said vandalism had been an issue for her too.

Ms Petheram said her library was now in its third iteration, after the first was stolen and the second blown up.

She was also behind the Love Box - a place for people to leave love letters for each other - but that was "bashed up" the day after it was featured in The Canberra Times on Valentine's Day last year.

"I'm not really sure what's driving people to do it," Ms Petheram said of the vandalism.

"The number of people that act positively is much greater, though, so I prefer to focus on that.

"Generally, the support we get from people for the libraries is huge."

Blake Foden is a reporter at The Canberra Times. He has worked as a journalist in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and joined the Times in March 2018.