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Updated Jun 25, 2014 - 11:57 am

Kansas City suburb bans 9-year-old's free library

(Screenshot)

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) -- A 9-year-old boy and his parents will ask a Kansas City suburb to reconsider its order that he take down a small structure in the family's front yard that encouraged people to read and share free books.

Spencer Collins' "Little Free Library" -- a little blue box on red stilts -- is part of a worldwide movement to promote reading through the free exchange of books. The family installed the structure at their Leawood home on Mother's Day but was told to take it down because the city said neighbors had complained and it violated an ordinance prohibiting structures in front yards.

Spencer and his parents, Sarah and Brian Collins, said the libraries promote reading and community spirit.

"We all don't seem as able to just get out and meet each other, but the library helped us meet neighbors and form community," Sarah Collins said. "One couple walks with their young daughters every day, and they started walking by our house just to see the books. It has been wonderful to get to know them."

Leawood officials said the Collins family will ask the city council in July to make an exception for the little libraries in the ordinance, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/1meEyi6 ).

Leawood Mayor Peggy Dunn said she hoped the council could resolve the issue. The process of changing an ordinance is time-consuming but a moratorium could be put in place quickly, which could allow little libraries to go up in Leawood as soon as July 8.

However, Leawood Councilman Jim Rawlings said he would not support changing the ordinance.

"This is different than a one-day Kool-Aid stand; it's a permanent structure," Rawlings said. "This question is, where do you draw the line on front-yard structures?"

The Kansas City region has about 30 Little Free Libraries, according to the nonprofit Little Free Library. The nonprofit said there are about 15,000 registered little libraries in 62 countries.

Gwyneth Jones of nearby Mission said she still likes the idea even though her two little libraries were ransacked earlier in this month and an estimated 100 books were stolen.

"I put a sign in my yard that the books had been taken, and people immediately started bringing books," Jones said. "If anything, the vandalism has strengthened my desire to keep the momentum going in the KC area. I really believe it's making a difference in the community; just look at how fast these books are showing back up."

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

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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