Four years after kerfuffle over legality of Little Free Libraries, Leawood updates code to allow for book-sharing structures

Spencer Collins, then 9, stands by the Little Free Library that prompted the threat of a citation from the city of Leawood back in 2014.

Leawood residents who want to keep a Little Free Library in their front yards are renegades no more — at least as long as their home owners associations are okay with it.

Four years after codes enforcement sent a letter threatening the Collins family with a citation for violating the city’s rules on detached structures for putting a Little Free Library in their yard along Ensley Lane, the city formally adopted new language Monday that allows for Little Free Libraries to be installed.

Following a wave of criticism and national media attention for issuing the letter to the Collins family, Leawood’s council adopted a moratorium of enforcement of the part of the code that made Little Free Libraries illegal. The city extended that moratorium for years to allow home owners associations to explore what regulations, if any, they would put on the structures.

On Monday, the Leawood city council adopted an addition to its ordinance on permitted accessory uses, buildings and other structures that specifically allows for containers “holding books to be shared by members of the community.”

The containers must be:

  • no larger than six cubic feet and no taller than six feet.
  • located entirely on private property.
  • kept in good shape and not allowed to fall into disrepair.
  • made of “materials commonly used in the neighborhood.”

However, home owners association regulations supersede city ordinances. So if a Leawood HOA wants to put a Little Free Library ban in its covenants, homeowners there won’t be allowed to have them.