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Trinity Lutheran Church "little library"

Trinity Lutheran Church's "little library" sits on its Winnebago Street perch. The miniature library, a replica of the East Side church, was stolen in August but returned, undamaged, in November.

An East Side church’s unique “little library” is back in business after being stolen in August and going missing for months.

Trinity Lutheran Church’s miniature library, a hand-crafted scale model of the church itself, complete with stained-glass windows, was unscrewed and stolen from its perch on Winnebago Street the night of Aug. 31. Its books — usually taken for free use by passers-by, then returned — were tossed into some nearby bushes.

Neighborhood residents soon started trying to get the word out about the stolen library, and last month their efforts paid off.

On Nov. 15, a man found the library on Madison’s South Side, Pastor Sue Schneider said, and recognized it from news stories. It had been left, undamaged, next to a dumpster on Rimrock Road.

“Even the tiny little stained glass windows are still intact,” she said.

Two days later, the architect who made the mini library re-installed it — with the addition of some “gigantic, anti-theft bolts,” Schneider said.

Returned to its spot next to a bus stop, she said, the library is as popular as ever.

Schneider says she is grateful for everyone in the neighborhood who brought attention to the missing library and helped get it back.

The question of who took the library is still unanswered, though, with only a few clues: The library was found with a pair of children’s shoes inside, and it was wrapped in a blanket to protect it from the elements, Schneider said.

“Somebody must have seen the preciousness of that library,” she said.

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Nico Savidge is the higher education reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.