Open a small community library, get fined or shut down?
June 23, 2014 | 10:25 am
The spirit of the community library and encouraging reading is clearly not evenly distributed everywhere across the U.S. As citizens of Leawood, Kansas, found when they started erecting Little Free Libraries in their yards – which apparently are prohibited under a city ordinance banning freestanding structures in their front yards.
Campaigners supporting one of the most widely publicized Little Free Libraries, erected for nine-year-old Spencer Collins as a gift from his grandfather with the help of the other members of the Collins family, have put up a Facebook page, “Spencer’s Little Free Library,” to rally support, after the Leawood city council ordered its removal. As of the time of writing, it had 8900 Likes. “Help Spencer work with Leawood, Kansas to amend its city code to allow Little Free Libraries!” runs the page description. The link above carries a detailed response by a Leawood council member.
“Little Free Libraries are popping up across the metro,” states KCTV’s original report. “They allow book lovers to borrow and share their favorite books whenever they want.” The case has now gone nationwide and attracted numerous reports. “Good luck to the city of Leawood as it attempts to extract itself from the tempest created when a family’s front-yard lending library was found to be in violation of the city code,” editorialized the Kansas City Star.
There may be more than simple bureaucratic bumptiousness to the story, though. The original KCTV report quotes one neighbor who considered the Little Free Library an eyesore, and also states that the original rationale for the ordinance was “not only protect the integrity of the neighborhood, but to make sure nothing negatively affects property values in Leawood.”