- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) - After a plea from a 9-year-old boy, a Kansas City suburb will temporarily allow residents to have small, free lending libraries in their yards.

The Leawood City Council on Monday night unanimously approved a temporary moratorium that allows “Little Free Library” structures in residents’ yards. The moratorium, effective Tuesday, will last until Oct. 20.

The action came after the city received national attention when it required Spencer Collins and his family to remove a small blue box on stilts that was full of books, which residents could read and replace for free. The city said neighbors had complained and the library violated an ordinance prohibiting structures in front yards, The Kansas City Star reported (https://bit.ly/1mExXne ).

“I want you to allow little free libraries because I love to read,” Spencer told the council. “Lots of people in the neighborhood used the library, and the books were always changing. I think it’s good for Leawood.”

It could take 60 to 90 days to permanently amend the ordinance and the city must hold public hearings before it can take such action, City Administrator Scott Lambers said.

Lambers asked the council for permission to survey Leawood homeowners associations to gauge public opinion and to help the city decide whether to impose standards of color or number per neighborhood for the libraries.

“If collectively we keep working together, we will achieve something in its entirety,” Councilman Andrew Osman told the Collins family.

One Leawood resident at the meeting questioned the need for the libraries.

“Why do we pay taxes for libraries and have those boxes on our streets?” Wade King asked. “In a blighted area? Sure, put them everywhere. We’re not a poor area. We don’t need them.”

Another resident, Wyatt Townley, said she supports the libraries because they help neighbors meet each other.

“They are connecting the dots between books and community,” Townley said. “Reading is a solitary endeavor, but this makes it about community. It is about neighbors reaching out to neighbors.”


Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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