Montgomery County to Require Building Permits for Little Free Libraries

Unpermitted Little Free Library

ROCKVILLE, MD – Looking to fill gaps of boredom caused by issuing building permits too expeditiously, the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (DPS) will now begin requiring building permits to construct Little Free Libraries in front yards.

“Health, safety, and the welfare of the public; that is our number one goal,” stated DPS Director Roy L. Payne. “We need to make sure that a Little Free Library follows the exact same building code standards as an actual public library. No free passes!”

As of January 1st of this year, residents planning to install a Little Free Library (LFL) must adhere to these simple guidelines, according to DPS:

1. Meet with Zoning to determine a location on the property that is both impractical and unsightly.
2. Have a licensed structural engineer to provide calculations proving the LFL can withstand the weight of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, and resist a 300 mph wind.
3. Hire an architect to design an LFL that is consistent with the surrounding neighborhood or historic district.
4. Obtain LEED Platinum Certification, the highest level of environmental efficiency for a new structure (most likely requiring solar panels, wind turbines, etc.)
5. Have a licensed electrician install ample reading light in accordance with the National Electric Code.
6. Perform a traffic study to make sure a car parked in front of the LFL doesn’t block access.
7. Arrange books per the Dewey Decimal System in accordance with Montgomery County Public Library guidelines.
8. Perform an environmental impact study to make sure wildlife isn’t harmed, and in Takoma Park, apply for a tree impact assessment.
9. Seek approval from the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commison (MNCPPC) to make sure storm water run-off from the 2 square feet of roof connects to a rain barrel.
10. Prove the library is maintaining appropriate community support by consistently polling above 5% in at least three Montgomery County accredited LFL polls.

“This new streamlined process will make it very easy for anyone to install a Little Free Library on their property,” stated Payne. “Also, the very low permit fee of $12,600 should result in a construction boom for these great resources.”

Additionally, Little Free Libraries will require annual inspections performed by the county to make sure all regulations are being met. LFLs that fail inspections will have books removed and burned in the streets to set an example for others to know that Montgomery County means business.

Not all were thrilled with the new regulations. “This is a bad idea for our city and I plan to stop it,” stated Takoma Park’s Ward 1 City Councilman. “After all, 60% of our local economy is based on recycling old books! 

Asked whether neighboring jurisdictions also plan to regulate Little Free Libraries, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser replied, “Hold my beer.”


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