Olathe city officials remain unsure when the Indian Creek Library will reopen, as they assess the damage from a water main break that flooded the library with 6 inches of murky water recently.
The popular branch, near 127th Street and Black Bob Road, serves a large portion of Olathe’s eastern residential neighborhoods.
The good news is, only 5 percent of the library’s 81,000 items were lost. Some furniture also was able to be saved.
The city is testing the library’s electronic materials, such as computers. It is also analyzing the extent of the building damage and estimating the cost of fixing the broken water line.
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The dollar amount of damage and the cost of restoration are both still unknown.
“It’s been a hectic week,” said Olathe Library Director Emily Baker recently. “It’s nothing you ever want to happen, but it’s been going as smoothly as possible because everyone has really pulled together. Our biggest concern is not putting anybody out because we really value our customers and our relationships with them.”
For now, Indian Creek operations and staff have moved over to the downtown library, located at 201 E. Park. Holds from Indian Creek, which were not damaged, are now being held in a special section there.
Indian Creek events, such as story time, for example, have either been canceled or relocated to the downtown building, depending on the date.
A temporary materials return is also located off of the northeast corner of Indian Creek’s parking lot. As always, books and other materials can be returned to any Johnson County Library.
Communicating with residents about the library’s closure has been a main priority for the city. The library has posted updates and news about the flooding through its e-newsletter, on its website, and through its smartphone app.
It’s a gesture some residents have greatly appreciated.
“The day it happened, I was going to swing by to drop off some books, but I got a notification on my phone from the library’s app saying it was closed,” said Olathe resident Jennifer Barrios. “That saved me the trip, which was nice.”
The mother of two is currently using the Blue Valley Library, on 151st Street in Overland Park, rather than the downtown location.
“It’s been a little inconvenient, but not that bad,” she said. “My kids grew up going to Indian Creek. On weekends, it was always part of our routine to stop there and then play at the park nearby, so I’m a little sad it’s closed, even though I know it’s only temporary. It’s a great library.”
Barrios’ nostalgic sentiment has been echoed to library staff this past week from various patrons.
“People have been incredibly understanding and supportive about the situation,” Baker said.
And while she thinks it’s exciting to see the downtown library livelier than normal, Baker eagerly anticipates the day Indian Creek will bounce back to life.
“As soon as we know when the library will reopen, we will let people know,” she said. “We’re looking forward to becoming fresh and new again.”
Jennifer Bhargava: firstname.lastname@example.org