90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science

Little Library Causes Big Zoning Controversy

Note: See an update on this story here.

City leaders in Leawood, Kansas tonight will take up 9-year-old Spencer Collins‘ Little Free Library.

Spencer Collins, 9, with his Little Free Library that a neighbor complained  was an eyesore and violated the town's zoning ordinances. (Sarah Collins)

Spencer Collins, 9, with his Little Free Library that a neighbor complained was an eyesore and violated the town’s zoning ordinances. (Sarah Collins)

The boy had put up a slightly larger than a birdfeeder box containing a free book exchange in his front yard, but a neighbor complained it was an eyesore and “an illegal detached structure” that violated the town’s zoning ordinances.

The city originally told the boy that the Little Free Library he had in front of his house violated the city ban on unattached buildings in front yards, but agreed to discuss the ordinance at the City Council meeting tonight.

Spencer Collins and his dad Brian Collins, who will defend their Little Free Library at tonight’s Leawood City Council meeting, speak with Here & Now’s Robin Young.

Todd Bol, executive director of the nonprofit organization Little Free Library, which sells and registers little libraries, says these kinds of zoning fights usually end up embarrassing town leaders.

Interview Highlights

Brian Collins on being told the library was an eyesore that violated city codes

“We were out of town and when we got back we got a courtesy letter from the city of Leawood telling us the Little Free Library is illegal and that we had until June 19th to take it down or receive a citation.”

Spencer Collins on the positive impacts of the Little Free Library

“It benefits reading and, as my mom says, it really benefits the community.”

Todd Bol on the major success of Little Free Library

“This has, hopefully, a major impact on improving literacy throughout the country. We planned on passing Andrew Carnegie [who built 2,509 libraries] and we thought that it would take until 2016 and we did it — we built 2510 by August of 2012. So our next goal is to pass McDonald’s. When we hit about 55,000 libraries we’re gonna put a sign on the library that says, ‘Billions and billions read.’ You know, more books than burgers. We thought that’d be great.”

Guests

  • Spencer and Brian Collins, son and father team defending their Little Free Library.
  • Todd Bol, co-founder and executive director of the Little Free Library. Little Free Library tweets @LtlFreeLibrary.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

October 21 Comment

Jim Gaffigan’s Love Affair With Food

The stand-up comic gives his particular gastronomic take on the world in his new memoir "Food: A Love Story."

October 21 Comment

Jill Abramson Announces Plans For News Startup

The former New York Times executive editor said her goal is to create a news outlet that favors quality over quantity.

October 20 Comment

Alternate Routes: Lasting Impressions From The Road

Our digital and social media producer Rachel Rohr is back from a month-long trip cross-country, talking with young Americans.

October 20 Comment

Mario Batali Goes Farm To Table

The chef and restaurateur discusses the "farm to table" trend and shares recipes with a hearty and rustic twist.