Fairway leaders tell mother to hold off on little free library

FAIRWAY, Kan. - A new city has entered the big debate over little free libraries.

City leaders in Fairway, Kan., have told a mother to hold off on putting one in her front yard.

The concept that started in Wisconsin has made its way to dozens of lawns in northeast Johnson County. While some families have been able to build on their lawns with no issue, others are facing the pushback of local regulations.

"It's really been a community builder because people have come not only to pick up books but they leave books, they've requested books," Patti Fishel said.

Patti and her husband Doug have had a little free library on their Prairie Village lawn since April. But less than 10 minutes away in Fairway, one mother hasn't been so lucky.

On Monday, Erin Margolin went to Fairway city leaders to get permission to put her little free library on her lawn.

"With so many problems in our society, someone's going to have an issue with me offering books to the free public, it just blows my mind," she said.

While the city has no ordinance regulating these specific libraries, they weren't ready to give Margolin the green light.

"I've been wanting this for so long. I guess, I was kind of naive and I thought it would be like, 'Oh, we're so happy, go for it.' But it was like, 'Oh, just kidding, we need to check some stuff out first,'" she said.

City Codes Administrator Bill Sandy says anything that's defined as a structure must be regulated by the city.

"One person's idea of small and one person's idea of big are sometimes very different," Sandy said.

Over in Leawood, the city forced the Collins family to take down their box of books because its placement violated the city's code. But Fairway leaders say they are trying to keep that from happening in their city.

"We don't want to cause people to build something and then a month later the city does have a regulation and then it doesn't meet that regulation," Sandy said.

In the meantime, the Margolin family waits to start their first chapter.

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