While it may seem like a normal warehouse on the outside, this Baltimore building is so much more.

Russell Wattenberg is the architect of the visionary idea behind “The Book Thing”: a building that houses over 7,000 books that are free for the taking.

Weekly for the last 17 years, Wattenberg has opened wide the doors of the facility to the community so they could peruse the shelves and take home any books that interested them – and he never charged a penny.

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“[It’s] all free. We encourage shoplifters,” Russell told CBS.

In a tragic fire last year, the building and all of its contents burned down, so the community he had been serving in Maryland stepped up to thank the bibliophile and paid some overdue fees.

Thanks to a host of fundraisers and donations,  The Book Thing reopened for the public last month in a celebration of reading.

(WATCH the video below – or View it at CBS News)

Click To Share This Sweet Story With Your FriendsPhoto by CBS News

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