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Woman fights to save 'little free library' behind west Houston backyard

HOUSTON – A woman spent months of her time, money and energy to create a little free library for her west Houston community in hopes of getting children (and passersby) to read, but this week she got a letter from the county telling her it all has to go or it will be torn down within a week.

PHOTOS: Maggie Zamora's library behind west Houston backyard

She didn't know what to do.

She trusted KPRC's Rose-Ann Aragon to share her story.

Maggie Zamora is a former English teacher and wants anyone who walks the pathway in her Ashford Forest neighborhood to use the beautiful resting place she built just behind her backyard.

When she got a letter from the county saying it had to go, she decided to fight to keep it.

"I want this place to be a destination -- something to share with the community," Zamora said.

Everyone in the neighborhood knows about the small escape from the beating sun on a path just behind Zamora's home.

"My idea was to create a little public library with the community, and what I did was build it in the shape of 'Doctor Who's' TARDIS," she said.

Zamora had a dream to share her love of reading with the community, especially children, so she built the mini library in 2016.

"I sometimes put comic books in for the kids so hopefully they can be interested. Now the adults have taken over and they bring magazines and books to share, puzzles -- all kinds of things," Zamora said.

It wasn't long before the library became a community treasure.

"People come here and look for the books and sit and read," Hannalore Ranft said.

Zamora took care of the library and, like her imagination, it grew.

"Here is an avocado tree, and we have a fig tree to the right that people can come and grab and share -- and a very interesting apple tree -- it's actually a grafted tree that the Harris County master gardener did -- and it's got three different types of apple here -- and we have some apples," Zamora said while walking the grounds.

It was food for thought she planned on sharing with the community, until she got the letter from the county.

"That it's an unauthorized encroachment of their right of way -- that's basically all it says," Zamora said.

Citing maintenance, Zamora was told that in a week the library would be torn down. She asked for an exception but never heard back.

Aragon reached out to the city and got a swift response.

Commissioner Steve Radak said the city decided Zamora could keep the library, as long as she maintains it.

Radak said Zamora just has to make sure she continues to mow the area, which she says she does, and that a part of the library along a drainage area must be clear.

"Oh I was ecstatic and am so grateful and appreciate that we were able to get the word out," Zamora said. "I have no doubt that helped. All of this I could have had in my backyard, but I wanted to share it with the community."

There are many little free libraries around the area. To find one near you, you can visit the link below.

https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/