Patterico's Pontifications

6/24/2014

The Little Library That Couldn’t

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:34 am

[guest post by Dana]

Untitled-1
(Spencer Collins in front of his Little Free Library)

Along with many of you, I am a voracious reader. I thank my parents for literally putting a lock on the television and making sure we always had a wide selection of books available to us, along with weekly trips to the library. What a wonderful lifelong habit to develop in children.

In light of that, it has been great to see the advent of the Little Free Library movement. The purpose is simple: It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share.What better than neighborhoods providing free books to anyone passing by?

And, as Mrs. Obama recently exhorted at the Summer Learning Day Event hosted by the Department of Education, summer is the time to read:

And no matter what you do, every single one of you should read, read, read. That’s what the President tells our daughters. (Applause.) Libraries all across the country are hosting outstanding summer reading programs every single year. So you all have got to go in and pick up some of those new books, maybe on some subjects you don’t know much about. Because reading might be the most important thing you can do for your future. And you can never do enough of it. I know your parents tell you this, and we struggle in our own household to get our kids to turn off the screens and pick up books. But truly, reading is going to do so much for you. So pick up those books and really get into it.

So, how unfortunate it is that a Kansas City family who joined in the efforts by installing their own Little Free Library was given little option but to remove it.

The Collins family was told that their “Little Free Library” violates an ordinance that bans detached structures. Rather than pay the $25 per-day fine, they opted to put the library in the garage.

Spencer Collins, 9, doesn’t agree with Leawood’s policy and is planning to address the city council in July.

“I would tell them why it’s good for the community and why they should drop the law,” he told KMBC. “I just want to talk to them about how good it is.”

City officials expressed sympathy:

“We empathize with them, but we still have to follow the rules,” said Richard Coleman of the City of Leawood. “We need to treat everybody the same. So we can’t say if somebody files a complaint but we like the little libraries — we think they’re cute — so we ignore it. We can’t do that.”

Here’s hoping young Spencer Collins invites Mrs. Obama to join him at the city council meeting to tell city officials why their Little Free Library is good for the community.

–Dana

UPDATE: From the Leawood Development Ordinance, PROHIBITED USES, Article 4 Supplemental Provision, 16-4-2:

The detached structure including garages, barns, sheds, greenhouses, above ground pools,nor outbuildings, shall be permitted, unless expressly allowed by this Ordinance.

33 Responses to “The Little Library That Couldn’t”

  1. The next thing is you’ll be saying that maybe not immigration laws should be enforced.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  2. I used to go once a week to the library.

    I remember, on November 22, 1963, I returnbed books to the library. I asked someone who the next president would be.

    He said Lyndon Baines Johnson.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  3. Remember, these community leaders he wishes to address,
    picked the Apparat that smote him with the rules that the leaders put in place,
    and were elected by his neighbors.

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” - H. L. Mencken

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  4. The next thing is you’ll be saying that maybe not immigration laws should be enforced

    Seriously, Sammy???

    Dana (fe2228)

  5. Only Sammy takes Sammy seriously.

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  6. These kids are lucky they didn’t get the IRS unleashed on them.

    JD (e5a0fa)

  7. Sammy ,

    Do you see the free standing little library prohibition in a Kansas suburb equivalent to immigration?

    Dana (6875fb)

  8. Land of the free, y’all.

    JVW (feb406)

  9. I’m wondering what kind of person complained about a little library–maybe a very small-minded person?

    rochf (f3fbb0)

  10. Neighborhood Nanny Nazi.

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  11. Sammy ,

    Do you see the free standing little library prohibition in a Kansas suburb equivalent to immigration?

    The principle is exactly the same. Either the executive branch can decide not to enforce laws it doesn’t agree with, or it can’t. Collins is getting a chance to address the legislature and get the law changed; his chance of success is high. That’s a lot better than poor people in Latin America get; they have no chance of getting the law changed, and no way of ever legally immigrating and giving their children a chance at a future that they have every bit as much of a right to as children who happened to be born on this side of the border.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  12. When the cauldron has been filled, it must be moved to the area underneath the pulley.
    Orlando also offers great nightlife and shopping making it perfect for couples and groups.
    Make sales calls to retail grocers and shops in your area to set up
    delivery times and days.

    โกดังให้เช่า (876c93)

  13. If they would just attach the library to the garage, the whole issue would be solved. Why does it have to be a free-standing structure, in violation of this stupid ordinance?

    Milhouse (b95258)

  14. If the ordinance is so important, can’t they just amend it to exempt these? Or not enforce? It’s not like the government hasn’t ever refused to enforce things that aren’t important.

    Want to bet an overzealous inspector driving by lodged the complaint? Or like someone above pointed out, the neighborhood nanny?

    rochf (f3fbb0)

  15. If the ordinance is so important, can’t they just amend it to exempt these?

    They can, and they probably will at the first opportunity. That’s in the story. Or they’ll just get rid of the stupid thing altogether.

    Or not enforce? It’s not like the government hasn’t ever refused to enforce things that aren’t important.

    See above. When 0bama does this everyone complains. So surely it’s good that this city takes a different attitude. No?

    Want to bet an overzealous inspector driving by lodged the complaint? Or like someone above pointed out, the neighborhood nanny?

    These ordinances are made for the officious inspectors and the neighborhood sticky-beaks. The Supreme Court made a big mistake allowing them in the first place.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  16. 4. Dana (fe2228) — 6/24/2014 @ 11:12 am

    Seriously, Sammy??? </i.

    Well, no, you won't. But the principle is exactly the same, if laws shoudl be efnorced to the hilt regardless of the merits. And people say it's not about the merits, it's about the law.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  17. “Nothing in these regulations and ordinances shall be construed to disallow the establishment, erection, and maintenance of free Little Libraries and a small adjoining seating area (less than seven people) at his or her own expense on his property by the homeowner.”

    htom (412a17)

  18. “Nothing in these regulations and ordinances shall be construed to disallow the establishment, erection, and maintenance of free Little Libraries and a small adjoining seating area (less than seven people) at his or her own expense on his property by the homeowner.”

    That would be exactly the wrong kind of amendment to make. It preserves the stupid ordinance for most people, and only makes a narrow exception for one case that’s no more deserving than any other. Why should “free Little Libraries” get special treatment? If a law proves noxious, get rid of it for everyone, not just the squeaky wheel who made the fuss. Grease all the wheels, not just the one that squeaks the loudest.

    Really, who would be harmed if someone put a doghouse in their front yard, or a tree house, or a play fort?

    Milhouse (b95258)

  19. Milhouse (b95258) — 6/24/2014 @ 11:48 am

    They put it next to the sidewalk so it would be accessible without having to enter private property.
    Attaching it to the garage would not have allowed that easy access due to set-back codes.

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  20. Really, who would be harmed if someone put a doghouse in their front yard, or a tree house, or a play fort?

    The general line of thought is that such structures do not enhance property values, but are a detriment to them.
    And, in most parts of suburbia, the enhancement of property values is King.

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  21. Two primary elections today: One involving Charles rangel, one Thad Cochran.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  22. I’ve updated the post with the Leawood ordinance prohibiting the structure.

    Given that they do not list little libraries, perhaps they should request a codified definition of “detached structures”. Clearly, the structures they refer to are sizable and could impact home values, views, block access to driveways, and a plethora of other possible problems. However, how does a little library fall under the same umbrella?

    Also, some people mount their little free libraries on large cemented posts in the ground to get around the ordinance.

    Dana (fe2228)

  23. It’s like they’ve never heard of a variance. Having lived next to a landscaping business on a C-1 lot, I know LA has them.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  24. Also, some people mount their little free libraries on large cemented posts in the ground to get around the ordinance

    Or attach it to their house with a rope.

    I bet they are death on lemonade stands.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  25. Thad Cochran.

    Thad’s strategy is to get Democrats [who didn't already vote in the Dem primary] to vote in the GOP runoff. If he wins, it will be because Democrats, particularly black Democrats, chose him. How the national party can go along with that is a mystery to me, and I don’t have a dog in this race.

    Or at least I didn’t. Thad would be far more compromised than before.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  26. Kevin M (b357ee) — 6/24/2014 @ 3:21 pm

    Thad’s strategy is to get Democrats [who didn't already vote in the Dem primary] to vote in the GOP runoff. If he wins, it will be because Democrats, particularly black Democrats, chose him.

    There’s no party registration in Mississippi.

    How the national party can go along with that is a mystery to me, and I don’t have a dog in this race.

    If that was a problem, then the election of any Republican in Louisiana and California is a problem. Not to mention the re-election of Lisa Murkowski in Alaska.

    Thad would be far more compromised than before.

    He has to win the general election anyway.

    National parties generally don’t care how somebopdy got elected to the Senate, just so long as they caucus with them in Congress.

    Sammy Finkelman (9257c5)

  27. It’s like they’ve never heard of a variance. Having lived next to a landscaping business on a C-1 lot, I know LA has them.

    Yes, but you have to apply for them, and the council (i.e. the legislative branch of the city government) has to grant them. The city staff (i.e. the executive branch) can’t just waive the law 0bama-style. This is exactly why the kid is appearing before the council, to ask not just for a variance for himself, but an amendment for everyone similarly situated. I think they should just jettison the ordinance altogether, or make clear that it doesn’t apply to any small structure like this.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  28. Zero Tolerance: its not just for schools anymore.

    @6. Its early. There’s lots of ball yet to be played…

    Gramps, the original (29ecf6)

  29. I bet if the kid stocked the little library entirely with books by James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Barack Obama Bill Ayers, any attempt by the city to shut it down would miraculously be reversed.
    Because…racism.
    Or something.

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  30. Milhouse — Good point.

    htom (412a17)

  31. It’s just stupidity, permitted by timidity. If the picture is correct, according to the ordinance in the update, those are not outbuildings. They’re lawn furniture. My Weber is bigger than the kid’s “library”, and my log swing set five times bigger than the park bench.

    nk (dbc370)

  32. I used to leave books that I had read on airplanes at airports, with a list of the places the book had been (while in my possession), and encouraging others to take it on a plane, and leave it at another airport, and add some places to the list. Seemed like a good idea, but I haven’t done it for a while. I also haven’t flown for a while so maybe that explains it.

    Jim S. (a95060)

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