A year from now, the inside of the Central Resource Library, 9875 W. 87th St., will be barely recognizable. There will be a new lobby up front, a bigger room for special events, a used bookstore and a big new place for 3D printing.
But for now, patrons will have to make due with a few feet of tarp-walled space just inside the front entrance, which is being nicknamed “Little Central.”
The Johnson County Library kicked off a major renovation of its flagship library Tuesday with speeches, coffee and rolls. Among the coming improvements: A new Carmack Room for special events that is more centrally located and about twice the size of the current one; a new front entrance that puts a lobby where the current checkout desk is and moves the checkout desk more to the center; a new children’s area with a larger family restroom; a sixfold increase in the popular MakerSpace, which has a 3D printer, green screen for videos and other technical equipment. The new MakerSpace will be relocated to the current Carmack Room.
In fact, just about every part of the library’s floor space will be affected. Space for public meetings will be about doubled, said County Librarian Sean Casserley. And the project will include an update of the air handling system and energy efficient lighting for the 20-year-old building as well.
The $3.6 million project and its bond sale were recently approved by county commissioners. “After 20 years, it’s time for some upgrades,” said Commissioner Jason Osterhaus at the kickoff event.
But all those improvements don’t come without some sacrifices, and library patrons who use the Central branch will be making them in the coming year.
The Central branch will remain open, but with very limited services until construction is completed in early 2016.
Patrons who walk in the front door will see a checkout desk and a few shelves for holds and limited browsing. Scott Sime, project coordinator for the library, said there will be a variety of books on hand to browse, from children’s books to popular adult selections. Books can still be returned to the front desk and the drive-through book drop.
The branch will still have a restroom available and there will still be advanced voting in April, Sime said. But anyone who wants to do genealogy research will be better advised to work online or to go to the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, he said.
After April 1, all library branches will open an hour earlier to handle the extra traffic. “Little Central” will not limit its hours during the construction.
In addition to the improvements paid for by the bonds, library officials also hope to raise money from other sources for a new training lab and perhaps a second 3D printer. The training lab would be available for people to learn software for resume creation and other projects. Those items were not covered by the bonds.