‘We had everything’: Little free library blown up by fireworks in Modesto neighborhood

Local News

MODESTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Vandals recently ruined a popular little free library used by families in one Modesto neighborhood. 

Jay Willis said the little free library installed in his front yard this year was a gift from family for his wife, who is a first grade teacher. 

“Every time we looked at it, it was new books there and books that have been exchanged, and it just immediately just kind of took off,” Willis told FOX40.

Six months later, he said he’s realized just how much the little library meant to his neighbors.

“There was probably somewhere between 60 and 90 books, all different kinds, too,” he explained. “We had everything from, you know, preschool books to, you know, elementary school books to adult books, novels, old books, new books. It even had puzzles and some other things in there for kids to do.”

But he said the book pantry was blown to bits by fireworks the day after the Fourth of July. Willis and his wife woke up to find wood, plexiglass and book debris scattered in front of their home. 

“We were pretty devastated by the destruction of it,” Willis said.

Since then, the couple said the outpouring of support they’ve gotten has proven to be a silver lining. 

“We had just people in the neighborhood that we’ve never met before come by, offer money to buy materials to rebuild it,” Willis told FOX40. “We even had a couple of people come by with hammer and tape measure in hand, and they were ready to rebuild it for us.”

The roof of the tiny library was all that was left behind. It now has a handwritten message directing neighbors to use the temporary book box now located on the couple’s porch.  

“There’s little kids that come by every single day to get a new book, and you know, we didn’t want to have to make them wait to be able to do something,” Willis said.

While the vandalism is a setback, Willis said it’s an opportunity to build an even better little library soon. 

“If anybody wants to help us when we get the new one up, if you visit and it’s not chock full of books and you’ve got some books that you might want to add to it, you know, feel free to do so,” he said.

Modesto police confirmed they are investigating the vandalism but so far have made no arrests.

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