After more than a decade of waiting, residents in western Shawnee are full of ideas for the long-delayed Monticello Library branch.
Several dozen people attended a public input session last week at the Shawnee Library to voice their suggestions for the $14.4 million branch library being planned on a vacant 2.75 acres at 22435 W. 66th St. in Shawnee and currently scheduled to open in mid-2018.
First proposed in 2005, the Monticello library is finally moving forward thanks to last summer’s property tax increase to expand and maintain the Johnson County Library system. The county bought the property in 2010.
Rick Wise, senior principal for architecture firm The Clark Enersen Partners, said the branch “has been a long time coming” and asked residents for ideas on how the library’s building design, collections and technology could best serve them.
At 30,000 square feet, the branch will be the second-largest library in Johnson County.
“It’s not a building for us,” Wise said. “It’s a building for the residents of western Shawnee.”
For the building itself and surrounding grounds, residents asked for bike racks and connections to nearby walking and biking trails, a community garden, lots of natural light, a drive-thru window for picking up reserved library items and perhaps an elevated walkway to help pedestrians needing to cross nearby Shawnee Mission Parkway.
In response to questions about future expansion of the building, Matt Glawatz, another architect with Clark Enersen, said that the library’s current site is too narrow to accommodate additional construction and that it’s often too expensive to install infrastructure for adding future additional floors. That said, Glawatz said planners are looking at keeping the interior flexible to accommodate changing collections, power systems and community uses for the library.
“We are not only thinking about what the needs are today, we’re thinking about what the needs are into the foreseeable future,” Glawatz said.
For inside the library, speakers requested study cubicles, areas to listen to live and recorded music, amphitheater-like seating for children story times, rooms designed for cooking demonstrations and child care activities, art displays, educational exhibits, building-wide WiFi, sound buffering for the areas dedicated to children and teens and easier ways to reserve rooms and materials.
Tim Johnston echoed several audience members in wanting the eventual building to have a wide range of spaces for community groups that often have difficulty finding meeting rooms in the neighborhood.
“Our neighborhood association has to meet on the top floor of the bank up the street, and it’s only open during business hours,” Johnston said.
He added that the current seventh grade class is the largest in the De Soto School District, and those students will need somewhere to study when they enter high school.
“A lot of high schoolers, if they have to meet after school for projects, they meet in the coffee shop and things like that,” he said. “There’s a lack of space available in the area.”
Jeremy Brown suggested including a MakerSpace, similar to the one at the Central Resource Library in Overland Park, that would appeal to inventors, budding engineers and other do-it-yourselfers who want to use 3D printers, electronics, hardware supplies and other tools.
“My son’s very interested in engineering, technology, robotics and so to be able to have a place for him to go that’s close,” Brown said.
Residents also said the Monticello branch should have a larger-than-normal collection of materials given that the next closest library is Lackman Library, at 15345 W. 87th Street Parkway and a 15-minute drive away.
Wise said the county will schedule additional public input sessions in the coming months.
David Twiddy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have an idea?
Residents can leave suggestions for the Monticello Library branch online at jocolibrary.org/monticello.