'Mindless vandalism' as books are burnt at Leeds Little Free Library

The Little Free Library in Hawksworth was set on fire first thing in the morning.
The Little Free Library in Hawksworth was set on fire first thing in the morning.
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A Little Free Library in Hawksworth, near Kirkstall, has been vandalised - just weeks after it was put up.

The library host, Alison Gordon, said it was 'shocking and sad' that the structure in Cragside Walk had been set on fire.

Alison Gordon with the repaired library.

Alison Gordon with the repaired library.

-> One of the Little Free Libraries in Leeds will be shut after constant vandalism to the books
There are more than 30 Little Free Libraries in neighbourhoods across Leeds. Anyone can use them to borrow a book or donate reading material and they are free to access.

The founder of the Leeds scheme, artist Carry Franklin, died just last month.
Alison and the Hawksworth Wood Community Association pushed for the installation of two library boxes in Hawksworth.

They had been planning to raise the cash themselves, but Leeds City Council gave them the funding. Both boxes have been in place less than two months.

Alison said her partner, Roger, was putting the bins out at 6am when he saw smoke rising from the box.

Kirkstall councillor Hannah Bithell lends a hand.

Kirkstall councillor Hannah Bithell lends a hand.

He and a neighbour rushed to put out the fire with buckets of water. Coffee stirrers had been used as kindling.

"It is incredibly sad, but we are not going to let them win," Alison said.

-> Petty vandals throw books out of free Little Library in Leeds
A former volunteer at social enterprise Seagulls Reuse and now of the newly-formed food bank at Hawksworth YMCA, Alison said she initially pushed back against scepticism from some people who said the boxes would become targets for vandals.

"Some people say 'you can't have anything, it will be trashed', but you can't not try. If they do, we just carry on, that's my attitude to life.

"I'm not so interested in who's done it. I hate it when anything goes wrong and people automatically blame children, because as we know, adults can be as bad as children.

"Some people reckon it's teenagers. My punishment would be for them to read stories on the grass to the children every day!"

Alison said cuts to youth services and centres could partly be to blame.

-> A second Little Free Library in Leeds has been vandalised by yobs
She quickly set about organising the repair of the box, with Kirkstall councillor Hannah Bithell lending a hand.

Alison said the response from the community had been 'overwhelming', with plenty of people offering books.

Paint from Seagulls and wood from Leeds Wood Recycling have been used to repair the box, which will be up and running again properly on Tuesday.