Following in Leawood’s footsteps, another Johnson County city doesn’t quite know what to do about Little Free Libraries.
City officials in Fairway told Erin Margolin on Monday to wait until early August to set up a small red library in her front yard. Approval is needed first from Fairway’s planning commission and City Council.
“It definitely wasn’t the reaction I was expecting,” Margolin said. “I expected them to be excited. I don’t understand how advocating for literacy is a bad thing.”
Unlike Leawood, Fairway does not have an ordinance prohibiting front yard structures, said Bill Sandy, city building inspector and codes administrator. He said the little libraries are technically considered structures and must be regulated by the city.
“There is no opposition in the city to the libraries,” Sandy said. “But if you don’t have guidelines, you never know what you’ll get. We want to be proactive.”
Sandy said that once the planning commission approves guidelines for the libraries, the City Council will have to approve them at its next meeting.
“If fast-tracked through, we should have everything approved by early August,” he said.
The Little Free Library movement, which began in Wisconsin, has brought more than 30 little libraries to the Kansas City area. The structures foster literacy and community with instructions for people to “take a book, return a book.”
The city of Leawood told one family to take down its little library until the Leawood City Council could vote on an exemption to the ordinance.
Members of the Collins family will appear before the Leawood City Council on Monday to make their case for their little library.
Margolin said her library will probably sit in her garage until she receives approval, but she will not give up.
“You never know whose life could be touched by a book,” she said. “I’m going to see this through because I think it is that important.”