The ‘Cat in the Hat’ Little Free Library most recently installed at Campbell Park has been vandalized.
The little library came to the community courtesy of a partnership between the St. Helens Arts and Cultural Commission (ACC) and a community member. It was constructed and painted by local Thomas O’Hanlon, who said the vandalism was brought to his attention via an email from a Public Works employee.
“When I found out, it took me by surprise,” O’Hanlon said. “It just makes a person wonder – who does that?”
O’Hanlon’s wife, Kimberly, posted a plea to the community on local social media hoping for more information about what might have happened to the library.
“It was just installed last week, and I am totally disgusted and saddened by this action,” Kimberly wrote. “This library was supported by several members of the community and took days to hand paint. The intention was to make books more accessible to children who visit the park.”
The Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization which encourages “take a book, leave a book” free book exchange locations in communities.
O’Hanlon raised funds for his Cat in the Hat Little Free Library and connected with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to ask for approval to use their imagery. When completed, he donated the Little Free Library to the St. Helens Arts and Cultural Commission for installation. The library was installed at Campbell Park on Friday, May 3, and a special dedication for the library was held later on Saturday, May 18.
“Luckily, it’s repairable,” O’Hanlon said. “It’ll need a new door and some minor cosmetic work but nothing major. I’ve already reached out to the Little Free Library organization on getting its replacement and plan to donate it to the Arts and Cultural Commission once completed, which should only take about a week or two.”
O’Hanlon said he’s hoping the incident is just “a one-off,” as he’s already working on another fundraiser to bring a Little Free Library for the community of Scappoose.
Police Support Specialist, Malinda Duran, of the St. Helens Police Department, said she had received a call about the vandalism which was referred to dispatch. She said Officer Bryan Cutright was assigned to the incident and will be looking into it.
Kimberly also asked that anyone with information reach out to her via Facebook or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to keep her abreast of the situation.
To report information about the incident, citizens should call the non-emergency St. Helens Police dispatch number at, 503-397-1521 and ask for Officer Cutright.
Follow this developing story here online and in the Wednesday edition of The Chronicle.