Kansas officials shut down boy's free front yard library


As It Happens on the story:

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A young Kansas boy and his family are protesting city officials after they were told to remove a free community library they set up on their front yard.

As a Mother's Day gift, Leawood resident Spencer Collins, 9, helped his father and grandfather build a cabinet-style structure with a shingled roof and clear glass doors with book shelves, according to a report on Fox4KC.com.

Spencer's mother is an elementary school teacher, and the family wanted to celebrate her love of reading and teaching by offering a "free little library" where people in the neighbourhood could take and leave books.

The family hoped that it would encourage people to "get into reading, get to know your neighbors, and just make new, meet new people, make friends," Spencer said.

However, the family recently came home from a trip and found a letter from the city that the library violated legislation that prohibits structures in the front-yard of single-family homes. Richard Coleman, Leawood's director community development, said officials aren't picking on the Collins' library, but need to enforce their ordinances.

"You couldn't put a bookcase out there, or a couch out there, or any items like that," Coleman said.

Brian Collins said the family came home from a trip to find a letter explaining the library violated an ordinance which doesn't allow structures in the front yard of single-family homes.

"I thought it was ridiculous," Brian said.

Leawood director of community development Richard Coleman said the city isn't targeting Spencer's library, but is enforcing a law.

"It applies to any structure, so we aren't targeting the little libraries. You couldn't put a bookcase out there, or a couch out there, or any items like that," Coleman said.

The family says they don't disagree with the law, but disagrees with the city's interpretation of their free library. They took down their library after getting the note, but Spencer said he plans to make a case for reinstating it at the next city council meeting.