Real Estate & Property Law

Town shuts down boy's 'little free library' for alleged detached structure violation

  • Print.

A 9-year-old Kansas boy and his family have moved their “little free library” after their town said it violated city code banning detached structures in the front yards of single-family homes.

Spencer Collins and his parents moved the library to the garage after the town of Leawood warned in a letter that they would receive a citation if they didn’t act, report KMBC, the Prairie Village Post and Fox4kc.

The library structure looks like a miniature house standing on four legs. The front has clear doors that reveal the books inside. The concept is for passersby to “take a book, leave a book.” Collins’ Facebook page, with a photo of the library, is here.

Spencer Collins told Fox4kc that he worked with his father and grandfather to build the library as a gift to his mother on Mother’s Day. “Reading is one of my favorite things to do,” he said. “We built it on Mother’s Day as a present for my mom because she really wanted one.”

Spencer Collins plans to appear before the city council to ask for a change in the law to exempt little libraries. “I would tell them why it’s good for the community and why they should drop the law,” he told KMBC. “I just want to talk to them about how good it is.”

City officials say they have received two complaints about the library. Leawood director of community development Richard Coleman told KMBC the city has to follow the rules. “We need to treat everybody the same,” he said. “So we can’t say if somebody files a complaint but we like the little libraries—we think they’re cute—so we ignore it. We can’t do that.”

Leawood Ward 1 Councilor Andrew Osman told the Prairie Village Post he believes the city will be able to resolve the issue to allow little libraries.

“While I do not believe that the Little Free Library is a violation of the City Code, I understand that this new trend in Johnson County has caught the city administration off guard,” he said in a statement. “I am certain that we can resolve the situation in a way that results in a mutually agreeable format to bring these libraries to our citizens. I also believe that there is a need to ensure that the structures are installed in a manner that respects others’ property and cannot cause harm if improperly maintained.”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.