Leawood man faces citation for putting Little Free Library in his front yard

Jay Senter - June 18, 2014 7:48 am
Brian Collins son Spencer, 9, stands near the Little Free Library in the familly's front yard. If the structure is not removed by Thursday, the family will face a citation.
Brian Collins son Spencer, 9, stands near the Little Free Library in the familly’s front yard. If the structure is not removed by Thursday, the family will face a citation.

A north Leawood man will have to decide today whether to remove a Little Free Library he recently installed in his front yard — or face a citation from the city.

Brian Collins, who lives near the intersection of 89th Street and Ensley Lane, installed a Little Free Library his father-in-law had given his wife for her birthday around three weeks ago. Collins went out of town for a few days last week, and when he arrived home, he found a letter from the city’s codes enforcement officer informing him that the Little Free Library was not permitted under city code because it was a “detached structure” and that he had until June 19 to come into compliance.

“Your take a book leave a book structure must be attached to the house,” the letter read.

Collins emailed Leawood Mayor Peggy Dunn about the issue, and requested that the city consider amending the municipal code to allow Little Free Libraries. Dunn referred the matter to City Administrator Scott Lambers, who responded with an email saying that the detached structure ordinance was “a common prohibition for cities.”

“I would suggest that citizens who are interested in this endeavor contact the Johnson County Library to see if this is an activity that the Library would permit to occur on their premises,” Lambers wrote.

That response irked Collins, who pointed out that the whole point of the Little Free Libraries was that they were right in their neighborhoods and easily accessible from the street.

“If it’s attached to the house, people aren’t going to come to it,” he said. “And why would you put a Little Free Library at a big library?”

Collins said he hasn’t made a final decision about whether to pull his LFL or not. He said he thinks he’s “ready to be cited. I’m ready to take it to court.”

“We’ve gotten so much positive response to it since we put it out,” he said. “The neighbors love it. If I lived three blocks to the north [in Prairie Village], this wouldn’t be an issue.”

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