Boy, 9, creates library in his front yard. City, stupid, shuts it down.

KMBC-TV, Kansas.


KMBC-TV, Kansas.

In Kansas, 9-year-old Spencer Collins has been told by authorities that he must stop sharing books with his neighbors, and close the little free library--honestly, it's just a bookshelf--in his yard. Its slogan was "take a book, leave a book," but city government is mostly about the taking.

Collins loves reading. He doesn't just dive into a book -- he swims through its pages.

"It's kind of like I'm in a whole other world and I like that," he said. "I like adventure stories because I'm in the adventure and it's fun."

When he tried to share his love for books, it started a surprisingly frustrating adventure.

"When we got home from vacation, there was a letter from the city of Leawood saying that it was in code violation and it needed to be down by the 19th or we would receive a citation," said Spencer's mother, Sarah Collins.

Leawood said the little house is an accessory structure. The city bans buildings that aren't attached to someone's home.

The family moved the little library to the garage, but Spencer Collins said he plans to take the issue up with City Hall.

"I would tell them why it's good for the community and why they should drop the law," he said. "I just want to talk to them about how good it is."

"Bookcase considered illegal accessory building" [KMBC-TV, HT: @lizohanesian]

Notable Replies

  1. peggyd@leawood.org - MAYOR
    debraf@leawood.org - Council Member
    andrewo@leawood.org  -  Council Member
    jimr@leawood.org  -  Council Member
    lour@leawood.org  -  Council Member
    tomr@leawood.org  -  Council Member
    carrier@leawood.org  -  Council Member
    jcain@leawood.org  -  Council Member
    jamesa@leawood.org  -  Council Member
    scottl@leawood.org - City Administrator
    allcouncil@leawood.org  - All Council Members & Mayor

  2. It really isn't the city...
    It is a couple of asshole neighbors
    Leawood said it has received two complaints about Spencer Collins' library.

    We have one of those in our block -- drives the building code guy nuts, but if somebody complains then he needs to take action.

  3. First its a little library, then next thing you know the kid is letting hobos set up tents on the lawn, and erecting oil derricks.

  4. The city is DEEPLY stretching the definition of "building" under the International Residential Code - "Any structure used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or occupancy." Since the thing can't be occupied it would seem not to be a building at all. This is also in a city that per their own codes doesn't require permits for "swingsets and playground equipment", which this could possibly be described as, since it is a fun structure for the purpose of enjoyment by kids and their families. If they don't issue permits for mailboxes, birdhouses, milk boxes, tool boxes, or garden hose reels, then they shouldn't be lumping this tiny toy library into an inappropriate bucket.

    And to the comment that they "have to do something" because there were complaints - that just isn't true. Cities aren't under any obligation to find the 5 most obnoxious people in their community and then do everything that group says (unless they are elected, haha!). My mother grows tall native prairie grasses in her Colorado lawn, and when a complaint was received about "uncut grass" in her lawn the city talked with her, learned that the grasses were native species, and added a specific exception in the grass maintenance ordinances that allow for native plants.

  5. Good god. What the fuck is wrong with.....

    Oh, it's Kansas.

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