The Collins family, whose story of receiving a threat of citation if they didn’t remove the Little Free Library they planted in their front yard has gone national, decided to remove the structure to comply with Leawood’s June 19 compliance date — but they aren’t giving in just yet.
Brian Collins told the Prairie Village Post Thursday that the family decided to put the Little Free Library in the garage at least temporarily to avoid the $25 per day fine they would have incurred if they didn’t come into compliance with the Leawood ordinance that bans detached structures.
Collins said his son Spencer, 9, is planning on addressing the city council in July to lobby for a change to the law. Brian said he intends to put a sign in his yard where the Little Free Library had stood to inform people about the situation and encourage them to contact the city council and Mayor Peggy Dunn to express their opinions on the matter. The family has also set up a Facebook page, Spencer’s Little Free Library, to rally support for a code change to allow the Collins to reinstall their Little Free Library.
Leawood Ward 1 Councilor Andrew Osman expressed sympathy with the family, and said he thinks the city will be able to resolve the issue in a way that ultimately allows Little Free Libraries in the community. He sent us the following statement on the issue Thursday evening.
I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Little Free Library situation that arose last week between the City of Leawood and Mr. Collins. I have two young children myself and think the concept of bringing books and literacy to our neighborhoods is a fantastic idea.
Unfortunately Mr. Collins’ Little Free Library was the first to come to the City’s attention; furthermore, there may have been a misunderstanding of the purpose and intent of the Little Free Libraries that have appeared in recent months within the Kansas City community. It also seems that the City staff did not fully comprehend citizens’ requests to participate in this new effort to unite community and literacy.
Leawood prides itself on its neighborhoods and making sure the City Code makes the most sense for its residents and continuing to practice responsible development that encourages community progress. 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. 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.
Our next City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday July 7th at 7:30 p.m. I welcome interested citizens to join us and share during the public comment portion of the meeting their ideas for bringing Little Free Libraries to Leawood and making sure that we come up with a solution that works for everyone.
Leawood City Administrator Scott Lambers, who sent Brian Collins an email suggesting he contact the local public library branch to see if he could put his Little Free Library there, has not responded to our requests for comment on the situation.