Anger as community book swap destroyed in suspected arson attack

Books were set on fire from the Little Library book swap in the Old Library Mews, on Rosary Road.

Books were set on fire from the Little Library book swap in the Old Library Wood, on Rosary Road. - Credit: Natalie Gray

A community has been left “devastated” after a suspected arson attack on its outdoor book swap library.  

Emergency services were called to reports of an open fire in Rosary Road early on Wednesday, January 26. 

The fire was caused by books which had been set alight in the Old Library Wood from its Little Library book swap.

Books were set on fire from the Little Library book swap in the Old Library Mews, on Rosary Road.

Books were set on fire from the Little Library book swap in the Old Library Wood, on Rosary Road. - Credit: Amanda Wood

One appliance attended from Carrow and the crew used a hose reel jets to extinguish the fire. Police were also in attendance.

The Little Library is cared for by The Old Library Wood Collective, a group of volunteers working to improve the area. 

But local resident and regular user of the book swap, Amanda Wood, said in all of the years it has been running, they have never had any trouble. 

Books were set on fire from the Little Library book swap in the Old Library Mews, on Rosary Road.

Books were set on fire from the Little Library book swap in the Old Library Wood, on Rosary Road. - Credit: Natalie Gray

When she came across what was left of the torn and burnt books, Ms Wood, from Rosedale Crescent, said she was appalled. 

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“It’s just complete vandalism and destruction. It’s horrible,” she said. “This is an open, friendly-space and to have had these books, particularly in the last two years, has been wonderful.  

“When the library was shut during lockdown, there was somewhere for people to go where you could leave or borrow books.  

“But for no reason at all somebody has decided to burn it and destroy it. I’m furious. 

“It’s a real community effort. Everything they do is done through goodwill. I can’t imagine how the volunteers feel."

Books were set on fire from the Little Library book swap in the Old Library Mews, on Rosary Road.

Books were set on fire from the Little Library book swap in the Old Library Wood, on Rosary Road. - Credit: Natalie Gray

Before it was reclaimed by the community, the site was once a hot spot for drug dealing and prostitution.

But in 2018 the Old Library Wood Collective launched the community book swap as part of their efforts to keep anti-social behaviour in the area at bay.

The vandalism of the community book swap comes after a Royal Mail lorry crashed through the park's wall in May last year

It happened less than nine months after a mural - which was placed on the wall - had been unveiled by the Old Library Wood volunteers in August 2020.

It had been painted by a local artist and drew on themes of the pandemic, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the sacrifices of NHS workers. 

Books were set on fire from the Little Library book swap in the Old Library Mews, on Rosary Road.

Books were set on fire from the Little Library book swap in the Old Library Wood, on Rosary Road. - Credit: Natalie Gray

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