Although walkable shopping spaces are popular right now, designers haven’t forgotten entirely about the lure of drive-through convenience.
Plans for the new Lenexa library branch — to be built in the pedestrian-friendly Lenexa City Center — bear that out.
Johnson County commissioners gave the go-ahead last week to include a kiosk at the new branch that would maximize the drive-through experience by allowing patrons to pick up items, as well as drop them off. The free-standing kiosk would be staffed during library hours and would be the first of its kind in Johnson County, said Scott Sime, the county library’s project coordinator.
“The drive-through concept is a perfect example of convenience to our patrons, who love and highly utilize the service,” Sime said.
Drop-off windows are common for area libraries, but pick-up service is rarer.
The Blue Valley library branch already allows drive-through pick-ups. About 17 percent of holds at that library are handled through the drive-up window, Sime said. Another pickup window is planned for the Monticello library branch, which is in the design stage as well.
But the Lenexa branch would be unique because the pickup window is not attached to the main building. No other libraries in the county have such an arrangement, Sime said.
It was the free-standing aspect that concerned commissioners when the proposal came before them two weeks ago. Commissioners Jim Allen and Steve Klika questioned the cost of putting library staff in the kiosk, which would prevent them from using down time on other duties inside the main building.
“I have concerns about putting an individual in a very small working space for several hours a day that’s not a part of the facility,” Allen said then. Klika said he was hesitant because he feared the potential high costs of staffing the facility.
But the commission unanimously approved the proposal Thursday after reassurances and clarification from the library board.
The building site, near 87th Street Parkway and Penrose Street, poses too many problems for the drive-up window to be in the main building, said assistant county manager Maury Thompson.
Because of the slope of the land, architects would have to build a special mezzanine floor and change the building’s shape to accommodate the window, he said. That would limit the appeal and flexibility of that building for future uses, he said.
The kiosk will be 300 square feet, with ample windows for staff, which will work in two- or three-hour shifts there, he added. Workers will have other duties while in the kiosk, so down time should be minimal and staffing costs would be roughly the same as they would if the window was in the main building, he said.
Replacement of the Lenexa branch, which is currently at 15345 W. 87th Street Parkway, is the second priority of the library’s expansion after the Monticello branch.
The new Lenexa branch will be about 40,000 square feet and is partially funded by a 0.75 mill increase approved by the commission last year.