DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dozens of so called ‘Little Free Libraries’ in Dallas could meet an unhappy ending. In a four to one vote, the council’s Quality of Life committee today approved new regulations for the borrow-and-bring-it-back book stands that would force many to close. The proposal now heads to the full council next month.
“There’s got to be more important things going on in Dallas,” questions Stacy Holmes, “than people trying to promote literacy!”
Holmes and her family built a ‘Little Free Library’ in their front yard after her daughter brought home the idea from a Girl Scout meeting. Then someone in her Lake Highlands neighborhood last year complained.
“Why?” questions neighbor Heather Morris. “Why would you? The older people talk about kids these days– all they do is be on electronics. This is a reason to not be on them. Why complain about it?”
Morris is an unapologetic fan of the convenient, always changing supply of reading material—that operates without deadlines for return.
“It’s awesome because we don’t have to drive to the library to check out books…and I don’t have time to return them! This is great!”
Proposed regulations in Dallas include limiting the structures to a height of 5 feet, there can be only one per yard, and there must be at least 10 feet between the library and the neighbor’s property line.
According to the building community WORSHOP, a Texas based nonprofit that has built many of the little libraries, “out of the 49 identified in Dallas, 25 would have to be torn down.” Interestingly, the group is right now working on designing and building five LFLs to honor the five officers killed in the downtown Dallas sniper ambush.
Meanwhile, based on the proposed regulations even supporters admit that everything about the Holmes’ little library is wrong: it’s too tall and it’s too close to the neighbor’s property line. Everything about it is wrong– except, of course, the intent– to make it easier for kids to get books.
“It’s all about the intent,” says Holmes, “and it’s turning into obstacles. One after another.”
Still, Holmes is vowing to keep fighting… because of how it feels to see a kid walk away with a book.
“Oh, we love it! It’s my favorite,” admits Holmes. “Sometimes they’ll even come by and sit down on the bench I put out here for them… and their family will come and sit out here and read books together.”
She says her city council member and many neighbors came to the little library’s defense last year—and she hopes they will again, because under the proposed regulations, existing structures would not be exempted. Her little library would have to come down.
“If it came to that, I would be heartbroken,” says Holmes, “I won’t give up.”
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