Officials threaten to destroy a Little Free Library in Texas

A welcoming Little Free Library in Okoboji, Iowa. Another in Texas has been threatened with demolition.

A welcoming Little Free Library in Okoboji, Iowa. Another in Texas has been threatened with demolition.

(Josh Noel / Chicago Tribune)

Who would want to hurt a Little Free Library? Officials from the Department of Code Compliance in Dallas, that’s who.

Months ago, Stacy Holmes’ Little Free Library drew the attention of officials in Dallas who were concerned that it might not meet regulations, but those concerns seemed to have been brushed aside. “Everything’s been quiet and peaceful,” Holmes told the Dallas Morning News. “It’s been going great. Every time I open it up I see new books in there, and there are always people out there using it.”

Holmes’ Little Free Library stands in her front yard adjacent to a sidewalk. Built from kits created by a nonprofit that has been honored by the National Book Foundation, the Little Free Libraries look like tiny houses with walls, roofs and doors to protect the books inside from the elements. Bypassers can take a book, for free, or leave one if they like.


Or they can phone in anonymous complaints to city officials.

That’s what’s happened in Holmes’ case -- three anonymous complaints, possibly brought by the same person, led officials to knock on her door this week. They told her to remove the library within a week or they would do it for her.

Holmes’ choices seem silly: She can put the library in her backyard, where there are no passersby; or she can dig up its stand and instead mount it on wheels, rolling it inside during certain times. It is her front yard, after all.

Jo Giudice, Dallas’ Director of Libraries, is a supporter of Holmes and her Little Free Library. But, she tells the Dallas Morning News, “The way the code is written in that neighborhood, you can’t have anything in your front yard.”

Dallas isn’t the first to threaten a Little Free Library. Officials in Kansas told a boy that the one he made with the kit that he got as a gift from his grandfather was an “illegal detatched structure.” Shreveport, La., served notice on a Little Free Library that violated zoning laws. And in West L.A., a DIY free library that an actor mounted between the sidewalk and the street was cited as a violation.

There are more than 32,000 official Little Free Libraries around the U.S., in every state, and in 70 countries around the world. At least, until the officials come knocking.

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