Update: City Warned Church Not to Put up Little Library in Right of Way

By: 10/11 News, Associated Press & Natalie Micale
By: 10/11 News, Associated Press & Natalie Micale

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The city of Lincoln has evicted a Little Free Library from a spot near a church in the Indian Village neighborhood.

In a letter given to 10/11 addressed to the Southminster United Methodist Church on June 30th, the City Public Works Department told the church it was in violation of Chapter 14.40 of the Lincoln Municipal Code relating to the public right-of-way, by putting up a wooden post set in concrete.

In the letter, the City of Lincoln requested the churches "immediate cooperation in removing the wooden post from the right-of-way." It also also asked the church to comply by July 10th.

George Finley lives across the street from the little library, and he said he's seen children go to it, grab a book and sit down on nearby grass to start reading.

Public Works Director Miki Esposito says she and neighborhood association president Barbara Arendt have talked about moving the library to private property, but that probably won't be done until after Thursday's deadline. She's also working with Arendt to delay the possible city fine of up to $500.

The neighborhood started work on this 'little free library' about a year ago - that's why they are so proud to finally have this in the community. And the city says it gave Southminster church fair warning that its location breaks city ordinance even before the library was completely built.

Miki Esposito, the Director of Public Works, says she sees the uniqueness in the community's idea but it lacks practicality.

"In the winter we store snow there so it would be really difficult," said Esposito.

The Director of the Neighborhood Association, Barbara Arendt, says the church did get the letter asking for the little library's removal but once they received it - it was already too late.

"I believe the one person who was in charge of it was out of town because we didn't hear about this letter until last Saturday," said Arendt.

By the time the church saw the letter, the library was already built.

Arendt is frustrated that the project she's worked hard on is getting derailed because of a city ordinance.

Arendt said,"The way it's written is frustrating and saying our little free library is a public nuisance and a hazard was a bit of a setback."

The neighborhood is supporting her and many others want the library to stay right where it is.

Denise Leonard has lived in the area for 13 years and she said,"I hope that they will leave the little library alone."

But while there may be some disagreement here, the little library will have to move unless the church wants to face a hefty fine.

Esposito said, "If they need some extra shovels, we're happy to help them move it. We're flexible."

On the City of Lincoln's Little Free Library Guideline website, it says the concept is gaining popularity in Lincoln and lays out where you can and can't construct one.


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